FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Puerto Vallarta and Beyond

by Patricia Vanikiotis

Aug 20, 2022

Our final port of call on our Princess cruise to Mexico was Puerto Vallarta, and once again we were blessed with mild temperatures and a beautiful sunny sky. The shore excursion I’d booked promised “Rare spirits and traditions at a private countryside resort,” but we first stopped in downtown PV for an opportunity to stroll the Malecón and do a little shopping.

While not nearly as extensive as Mazatlán’s seaside promenade, Puerto Vallarta’s Puerto Vallarta, Mexico also boasts a series of sculptures Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (sand and otherwise) Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and artwork Puerto Vallarta, Mexico along the seawall. The pavement also featured stonework depicting stylized versions of the local flora — such as peyote, important to the indigenous Huichol people Puerto Vallarta, Mexico — and fauna. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico After admiring the view, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico we walked a few short blocks to visit the iconic Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Its coral-colored bell tower, topped by the lacy “crown of angels” serves as a landmark and symbol of the city, and the interior is lovely, too, with a massive main altar Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and beautiful ironwork throughout. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

And what shore excursion would be complete without the obligatory walk through a few shops? I was pleasantly surprised by the courteous and low-key salespeople at The Opal Mine, though. The store is set up to represent an actual opal mine (for which the region is known), so visitors can get a bit of an education about the process. I was offered a cool drink and assistance in finding some lovely earrings for my daughters without being pressured to buy or spend more than I wanted.

At last we boarded our mini bus and headed to La Dulce Vista, a boutique resort nestled in the Sierra Madre Mountains outside of the city. Our guide, Alex, provided excellent narration spanning a host of topics during the nearly hour-long drive as we moved beyond the tourist center and past schools, public works and working-class neighborhoods. The roads got rougher and dustier and the buildings more rustic the farther we got from town, and at last we turned up a narrow, twisty, bumpy dirt road, surrounded by dry vegetation (March being the end of the dry season there). Finally, we headed downhill, with a small river coming into view Puerto Vallarta, Mexico  and then an orchard and some crops planted alongside the road. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico  Spread before us was a true oasis, with a boulevard of palms Puerto Vallarta, Mexico leading to the main building, landscaped grounds dotted with hammocks swaying between the trees, a shimmering pool Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and several open-air pavilions.

We started in the tasting room trying various spirits: tequila, made solely in Jalisco state from the blue agave plant, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico mezcal, made from the green agave plant, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and raicilla, also produced in Jalisco and in a more artisanal style. La Dulce Vista’s own version is made from the yellow and the criollo agave, a wild variety. I found it both more aromatic and flavorful than tequila, and I can see how it would be a popular base for a range of cocktails.

We moved on to tables under one of the pavilions where we were greeted by Erik “Fat Cat” Eduardo Gatto, the villa’s chef/mixologist and a very entertaining host. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico We snacked on the local honey pineapple (delectable!) and queso while he regaled us with stories as he prepared (and shared the recipe for) two refreshing, tasty cocktails: the Mo Passion, using the house raicilla and, of course, passion fruit, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and the lovely Red Summer, with reposado tequila, red wine and hibiscus tea concentrate. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico We sipped on these as we enjoyed flank steak tacos with prepared-before-our-eyes guacamole. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico In addition to the recipe, Erik shared a great guac hack: use a sturdy whisk to mash the avocado!

We had the opportunity to conclude our visit with a dip in the inviting pool (the resort also boasts volcanic hot spring pools), but I was content to sit and visit with Erik and the other guests before boarding our bus for the trip back to the ship. I really enjoyed this excursion, beyond the touristy core of Puerto Vallarta, and the opportunity to see, taste and experience a little more of authentic Mexico.

— Patty Vanikiotis, associate editor/copy editor

 

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FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

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