Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Cabo San Lucas (almost)

We almost made it to Cabo San Lucas, our last stop on this cruise. We did make it to the port but unfortunately, due to high winds we were unable to get off the ship. This is fairly common in ports that require tender boats to get between the ship and shore. Oh well…

At least we did get to see El Arco (the arch) as we left Cabo. It was a bit disappointing, but after three very active days, it wasn't too bad to have a day to rest. Also, the light on El Archo was a bit better than the previous year. And the main tour we would have had was a boat tour to El Arco. So in one sense we had part of a tour without paying for it.

Click this link or one of the pictures above to see more pictures in the Cabo San Lucas photo album.

Monday, January 29, 2024


Our next stop was Mazatlan. I was up bright and early to catch the sunrise a bit before 7am.

We had booked a tour with the cruise line for this stop, "Panoramic Hiking Views to El Faro Lighthouse." You can see the lighthouse at the top of the hill in the picture below. It looked quite a ways to climb and our hike was going to start at the base of the climb. It was a bit intimidating. One note: El Faro Lighthouse is redundant, since Faro is Mexican for Lighthouse.

Small four to eight person open air pickups took us from port to the base of the hill where there is a paid entrance for El Faro. Our tour guide took the time to take a picture of each couple who wanted one atop the sign. One of these days I may get ours from Elizabeth's phone pictures. If she ever shares them.

The tour guide, faced with a wide range of athleticism and age in his tour group, did an excellent job of adjusting the walk to make it enjoyable for all of us. With numerous stops on the way up and extensive talks at each stop, he kept the most in shape from outrunning and demoralizing the least fit and oldest among the group. It helped that at each stop he would also tell us how far we were and how far, sometimes how many steps, to the next stop. Everyone in the group made it to the top, even a lady in her 80's.

Two more stops up we had made it to the halfway point. Look closely and you can see the cruise ship back in port becoming smaller and smaller.

A couple more stops and, before we knew it, we'd reached the top. And the cruise ship was even smaller. Not an easy hike, but not nearly as taxing as two days previous when we walked to The Hill of the Cross Viewpoint in Puerto Vallarta, which felt like a death march compared to this informative and almost leisurely walk up the hill to the Faro.

After burning all of those calories it seemed only fitting that we should refuel at an authentic Mexican restaurant. The tour guide took us to a local restaurant, La Puntilla, that wasn't as touristy as most and was only a short walk from the cruise port. We had the shrimp and octopus ceviche along with coconut shrimp. It was all very tasty and super fresh. Even the octopus was tender. Washed down with a Negra Modelo beer (or two), and sitting in an open air patio by the water, it was a pleasant end to a wonderful day. If we go to Mazatlan again I'm not sure if we'll do the walk up to Faro, but I'm sure we'll visit La Puntilla again!

That evening we left port around sunset, a bit after 6pm, cruising by the lighthouse one last time. A beautiful end to a wonderful day!

Click this link or one of the pictures above to see more pictures in the Mazatlan photo album.

Sunday, January 28, 2024


Our next stop was in Manzanillo. We pulled into port early in the morning while it was still dark.

For this stop we booked an excursion with the cruise line which would take us by bus to a number of stops. The first stop was a salt manufacturing site.

Our next stop was a brick manufacturing site. In the picture below you can see that ad hoc kilns they build from previously fired bricks, to fire new bricks. I'm not sure how constant the temperature is for these kilns and I'd be hesitant to use them for building a house to live in.

Our last stop for the day was lunch in El Pariso, Spanish for The Paradise. Although it may have been paradise years ago, these days it looks a bit storm battered. Some of the buildings down the way from the restaurant were closed and half of their foundation was missing. Still, the weather was sunny and the day fairly nice, so the surf was still a safe distance from the table where were ate.

And of course, to commemorate our day in Paradise, we had to take a picture of us with the sign.

Back to the ship, we walked around the nearby port a bit before returning to the ship. The sailfish in the photo below is the most famous sculpture. But the foreground shows a row of Zodiac Sculptures done by Sebastián, one for each sign of the zodiac.

And of course we had to take a picture of ourselves in front of the Manzanillo sign. This view, by the way, is rare to find. Why? Because it was difficult to get a picture of just ourselves with the sign, there were so many others taking selfies in front of the sign. So what we did instead was go around to the back of the sign and take a selfie. This actually resulted in a mirror image of the sign which I corrected by editing the picture to make it a mirror image of the original picture. I think it turned out really nicely and it's something I'll keep in mind for future photos.

Click this link or one of the pictures above to see more pictures in the Manzanillo photo album.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Puerto Vallarta

We arrived at the port in Puerto Vallarta early in the morning, close to sunrise. It was an interesting port, maybe one of the few in the world where you can see super yachts, with a helicopter no less, parked across the street from a Walmart. We didn't go to the Walmart or the more upscale shopping mall next to it, but it did seem to be a very popular place for many of the passengers and crew.

We took a taxi from the port to what we expected to be the base of The Hill of the Cross Viewpoint. Be careful. They charge $5 per person and after the taxi driver agreed to take us there he picked up three more passengers during the walk to the cab. Those three were going to the Malecon, which is a walk along the ocean. The driver then stopped at what he said was in between the two points, but in actuality was only a block from the Malecon and ⅓ mile and, even worse, halfway down the hill from The Hill of the Cross Viewpoint. The taxi driver didn't want to have to spend a few more minutes driving up some of the smaller residential streets to drop us off, instead preferring to stay on the main road and get back to the port for another fare. Oh well… At least we got a good workout, though it was a climb of almost twice as high as we had expected.

At the top of the steep walk up the hill and then up a series of steps was a mural on the side of a cafe. We later heard that it doesn't keep regular hours, instead being open when the owner feels like it and otherwise closed.

The beautiful view from the top of the hill is well worth it! Check out the Puerto Vallarta photo album for more photos including a couple of panoramas.

Even the elevated platform itself seems to be a work of art. After the long climb up the hill, the steps to the top of the platform seemed easy.

The final portion of the walk up the hill is a series of steps. There's a funicular there, but it seems to have been out of service for most of the last few years. The website previously linked to shows a working funicular and a set of paths on both sides of the funicular, but the steps on one side of the funicular no longer seem to be used and are now overgrown with vegetation, as shown in the picture below.

We took a different path down the hill, one that was pedestrian only and led us to a restaurant, Si Senor, where we met David, a gentleman feeding pistachios to the parrot Nola. David has spent four months a year for the last 20 years visiting from Canada during the winter months. The mural of Nola shown in the picture below is quite amazing. When you view it with the naked eye it appears to be an abstract pattern. But if you take a picture of it, the mural is transformed into an image of the parrot Nola, as shown in the picture below. David also introduced us to the artist and the artist's girlfriend, who are also shown in the picture below.

For a number of years David had volunteered in the construction of the tile murals at Tile Park. It's a bit of a walk from the restaurant where he met us, but he offered to take us there since he was heading that way in any case to try to find his wife. There are a few more pictures of tile park in the Puerto Vallarta photo album but they don't really do it justice given the limited time we had to photograph it. But the preceding link to Tile Park provides a number of pictures and even a youtube interview with the artist.

According to David, the work on the park is now on hold due to possible local politics and perhaps lack of monetary donations to the right people. During our walk to the park David provided a running commentary on local restaurants and shops, including a number of places being renovated. The work shutdown due to local politics seemed to be a common issue.

After a tour of Tile Park, David took us to the Jim Demetro Galeria where he introduced us to Jim Demetro himself. Jim has done a number of the bronze statues along the Puerto Vallarta Malecon. The picture below is just one of his many statues.

Below are a number of other links related to Jim and his artworks.

So despite the rude taxi driver for the taxi from the port, and thanks in large part to the friendly Canadian David, we ended up have a wonderful day in Puerto Vallarta!

Click this link or one of the pictures above to see more pictures in the Puerto Vallarta photo album.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

At Sea

The Mexico cruise starts with three days at sea. It's great for relaxing and unwinding. One of the best shows for the day was a fruit carving demonstration. Click the picture below to see more pictures from the fruit carving demonstration.

Click this link or one of the pictures above to see more pictures in the At Sea photo album.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Leaving San Francisco

Jan 23, 2024 - Leaving San Francisco

We did this same cruise last year as part of a combined Mexico and Hawaii cruise. This year we didn't continue to Hawaii after the Mexico cruise, mostly because Princess didn't offer that as an option for this cruise. In the picture below you can see the Salesforce Tower on the left and the Transamerica Pyramid on the right. The Transamerica Pyramid was the tallest building in San Francisco when it was constructed in 1972 until the Salesforce Tower took over that honor in 2018.

Click this link or one of the pictures above to see more pictures in the Leaving San Francisco.