Archive for vacation

Week in Puerto Vallarta

We spent last week in Puerto Vallarta at the Crown Paradise all inclusive resort. It’s nice, I recommend it. We got a good deal. It wasn’t super upscale, but it was pretty good. It was mostly relaxing, we didn’t have any planned activities.

The hotel itself was pretty nice, it was a bit odd that we had a full kitchen and refrigerator in a 1 bedroom unit at an all inclusive hotel. But we later found out that our part of the hotel had been re-converted from a condo to a hotel so it made sense. A few other things struck me. Compared to our trip to Cabo San Lucas last year, the hotel guests were much more Mexican. At Cabo, I think like 70% of the guests were American/Canadian. At Puerto Vallarta, it felt like less than 40%. Part of it was that our hotel in Cabo was nicer, but it still was good to see that at least some Mexicans still seem to be doing pretty well for themselves. The kids water park was interesting as a contrast to what an American water park would be. The water slides were short, maybe 10 feet tall, but the bottom of the slide dropped into about 12 inches of water on slick painted concrete. An American hotel would never have that kind of thing due to liability and injury concerns. This didn’t stop me from letting Lucas play there, but I did wonder if that made me a bad parent. The water park was pretty busy with dozens of other kids so apparently I wasn’t the only bad parent. Many kids ran around with even less supervision than I was giving Lucas. The food was good, better than expected I’d say. In particular the meats were always very good, or excellent. The food tended to cater to the mostly Mexican guests, but I enjoyed it even though Mexican food isn’t usually my favorite. Unfortunately as with any all inclusive, even if it’s very good, by day 4 or 5, you’re kind of sick of it anyways. And of course, we ate too much.

I did play a round of golf at the Vista Vallarta golf course with my brother-in-law. It’s a nice course, well maintained, it only cost us I think $60/round but that was a discounted rate. I don’t play much golf and I’m bad, so I’m not sure how I’d describe it, but it was a bit tricky and had a lot of ditches. I saw a lot of sand play and lost many many balls. The good news was that I shot 10 strokes better on the back 9. The bad news was that I shot a 78 on the front nine, and that might’ve been a bit generous.

We bought a nice cake for Lauren’s birthday, unfortunately it didn’t taste quite as good as it looked. It was very nutty and heavily sauced inside.

We also got to swim with some dolphins while we were there. I figured it was kind of a once in a lifetime thing, so I might as well try. It was more fun than I imagined, though my expectations were probably a bit low. Dolphins are cool.

Pictures at http://tierneychen.shutterfly.com/1972.

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Bethany Beach

Been a while since I posted. The family spent last week in Bethany Beach, DE. It’s a nice, oceanside, suburban town with a lot of nice houses that you can rent out during the summer. We got 2 big houses for the extended family and spent a week there mostly just hanging out. We spent a couple days at the beach and some time driving to the nearby boardwalk at Rehoboth. We played a round of mini-golf and I saw a whale from the boardwalk. We didn’t eat out more than a couple of meals. Because the houses had full kitchens, we cooked most of the time. We celebrated my dad’s 75th birthday. Overall it was a great time, mostly because I got to see my family and Lucas and Lauren got to hang out with their cousins.

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Back from vacation

I haven’t blogged that much lately because I’m using twitter a bit more. It’s bad because twitter’s short messages discourage well thought out writing. I’ll try to do a bit better.

We’re back from our 1 week vacation in Cabo San Lucas. Lucas liked to call it Cabo San Me. We met Tracy’s family there and we spent a lot of time in the sun at the pool and on the beach. The great thing about Cabo is the location, it’s less than a 5 hour flight from almost everywhere in the US. While at the airport coming in, we were roped into getting a timeshare presentation in exchange for a bunch of discounts on activities.

The timeshare presentation was actually mildly interesting. I’d never had one before, so it was an experience to learn how they sell it. They had deals from about $15-30k for a 1-2 bedroom unit for a week. Doing a full purchase of the 2br unit would cost over $2 million. The timeshare program was more flexible than I’d realized. You can use it at any of several different properties, you can bank your weeks or take an advance on them. There’s also a full 3rd party timeshare exchange program in case you don’t feel like using those properties. Not that I was really interested. I guess it’s my parents influence that I’d prefer real ownership, though not at that price. Two of the ridiculous things they did in the presentation were to project out the cost of your future vacations with an inflation rate of 6-9% and to charge 15% interest if you financed the purchase.

We took a bunch of pictures and they are at http://tierneychen.shutterfly.com/. We stayed at the Puerto Bonito Blanco and it was pretty nice. Not the nicest hotel around, but all the rooms had ocean views and it was conveniently located. We ate a bunch of local restaurants, Casanova, Alexanders, Mi Casa, Sweet Bistro, Peacocks, Arts and Sushi. Mi Casa had really good carnitas, I had a good sea bass at both Casanova and Peacocks. The prices were a bit more than I expected, probably about comparable to what you’d pay in the US. One thing about the restaurants in Cabo is the different speed of service. They were all extremely slow compared to typical American restaurants. I think every meal out lasted more than an hour and a half.

The whole area was the emptiest I’ve ever seen a tourist town. Several nights there were only 1-2 other parties at the restaurants. It’s a combination of the swine flu aftermath, the economy, and the slow season, but I couldn’t see how any place we went was making money. One of the restaurant owners talked to us a bit and he said that the Mexican government was offering businesses super low interest rate loans so that they could keep people employed for a bit while they suffered through the downturn. Things did seem to be picking up when we were leaving.

We went on a glass bottom boat tour and I played a very bad round of golf at the Cabo San Lucas Country Club(I shot around 120 I’m pretty sure). Lauren didn’t sleep very well and that prevented us from sleeping really well. At the airport on the way home, she had an epic vomit. She must have projectile vomitted 12-16 ounces of curdled milk. It was pretty nasty. Thankfully it didn’t happen in the airplane, so Tracy was able to get something different to wear that didn’t smell.

Good fun all in all. I highly recommend it. I hear they are having great deals on hotel and air. And the location was convenient for everyone that went.

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Vancouver

We got back from a week in British Columbia. We spent 2 days in Whistler and 5 days Vancouver with Tracy’s family. It was a good time, Tracy’s family really enjoyed spending time with Lucas.

The weather was beautiful. Sunny and 75-85 every day. It was a bit strange to have 18 hours of sunlight from 4:30 AM to 10:30 PM.

I’ve been skiing in Whistler once before and it is the finest ski area I’ve ever been to(I haven’t been skiing that much). The trails are nice mixes, the mountain is huge and the Village is really nice.

Whistler is going through some heavy construction to prep for the 2010 Olympics. The access road is just two-lanes, but they are widening it to four so the traffic was heavy.

There was a BMX bike competition the weekend we were in Whistler, so I watched a bit of it while we were there. I’m not really a fan of the sport, but they did do some pretty cool tricks.

I also got a couple good workouts in Whistler. Running hills is pretty challenging as you’d expect. The elevation didn’t affect me as much as I thought it would, I didn’t realize the base is only 2100 ft above sea level.

Whistler Village is a happening singles market. There were a lot of bachelor and bachelorette parties going on, the restaurants were very upscale and trendy. The crowd was young or very young(though that might have been due to the BMX crowd).

Unfortunately the exchange rate sucks pretty badly, so everything was just a bit more expensive than it is here in America.

After Whistler, we came back down to Vancouver for the rest of the week. It’s a very diverse community. Here in the bay area we think of ourselves as diverse, but whether you’re asians, whites, latinos and indians, you’re still American. In British Columbia, even the whites are a pretty diverse, there’s a lot of Candians, American British accents, a lot of native French speakers, and a number of other European tourists as well. It feels like more real diversity than we have here.

Stanley Park is a great tourist spot. We stayed at the Westin right near Stanley Park, so for my morning runs I got to see quite a bit of it. It’s just a bit bigger than Central Park, so there’s a lot to cover. There’s a petting zoo, an aquarium, a few restaurants, and several monuments. We also spent a half day at Granville Public Market which was a somewhat typical open market.

We spent a half day hiking up and touring Grouse Mountain. It’s a very tough 1.5 hour hike, but at the top, you’re treated to a mountaintop cafe and some beautiful views of Vancouver. For the lazy, there’s a gondola that can take you up as well. At the top, there’s a grizzly bear habitat where you can get 20 feet from the bears if they are feeling co-operative or hungry.

We had good luck with our food selection. Restaurants visited include: Monk McQueen’s, Milestones, Whitespot, Norboo, The Sequoia Grill, the Stanley Park Grill, The Watershed Grill.

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