Saturday, June 30, 2007

Say "cheese"

I'm discovering so many interesting people through this world of blogging. I feel a bit like a stalker or peeping tom but I'm having too much fun to stop.

This was taken by a local photographer here in Austin. Her pictures are amazing.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Dream big.

Last night I had a dream that we realized one day that we could simply drive to Italy. This came to a huge surprise to us as if we hadn't known before that such a route existed much less that we were suddenly close enough to do so. In the dream, I even said to my husband, "Why haven't we done this before?!?" Waking up I laughed at the thought.

Maybe one day this dream will become reality. I can dream, can't I? :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Concert: The Police: June 26, 2007 in Dallas, TX

I had forgotten how big a part the band, The Police, played in my life growing up. I loved The Police especially in high school and would drool over Sting in that Wrapped Around Your Finger video that played incessantly on MTV.
The band, despite the lame Dallas audience, rocked liked I'm sure they did in 1985. Even though I swore I wouldn't spend money on a t-shirt ($35 ouch!), I caved and got this:

Set list:
Message In A Bottle
Synchronicity II
Walking On The Moon
Voices Inside My Head / When The World Is Running Down* one of my favs of the night
Don't Stand So Close To Me
Driven To Tears
The Bed's Too Big Without You
Truth Hits Everybody
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
Wrapped Around Your Finger
De Do Do Do De Da Da Da
Invisible Sun
Walking In Your Footsteps
Can't Stand Losing You/Regatta de Blanc
Roxanne*made a special call to my Dad on the cell for this one- I had a friend in high school named Roxanne and every time my Dad would pick up the phone when I would be talking to her after learning it was her, he would sing - more like scream - into the phone ROXXXANNEEE!! Unfortunately, I found out the next day he couldn't hear anything "but racket" so it sorta spoiled my efforts. I think that is when you know you've gotten old when you start using the term racket. Jeez.
King of Pain
So Lonely
Every Breath You Take
Next To You

It was pouring rain in Dallas. We arrived around 4pm and had plans to meet friends at the Taco Diner - a very good restaurant by the way and so weird: our waiter was from Patzuaro, Mexico!! where we JUST got back from..small world. The boys dropped us off as close as they could to the front door of the American Airlines Center, an enormous place by the way, and despite both having umbrellas we got drenched! (The drive home was crazy - monsoon type weather surrounded by geeked up semi drivers doing their best to get that UPS double truck to its final destination).
The Dallas audience was lame but I knew that would be the case. Growing up here taught me that lesson. Despite the older audience, age can't be blamed because I saw some older folks totally rocking out while their younger counterparts SAT the entire show. What the hell is up with that, people? It's the freaking POLICE! How can you pay $150 for tickets and just sit on your ass the whole show? Beyond my understanding. You know my butt was shaking the entire time. Loved it! Sting is still HOT! (photo credit of Sting: JASON JANIK/Special Contributor Dallas Morning News
Overheard at the concert:
drunk girl: That bitch just called me a whore! You don't call someone a whore! Bitch, that's ok but whore! that's just wrong.

Monday, June 25, 2007

the Amalfi Coast

I can't believe we'll be here in October. I can only fantasize that it will be as beautiful in person..I'm sure it won't be a disappointment.
I found this photo on the link above.

Whoever took these photos has an exceptional eye. I hope the pictures I come back with are even half as good. At least I'll have taken them and with them will carry my own memories.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


La Ropa Beach sunset below; Patz church (left)

view from Il Mare restaurant/zihua above

Patz funeral; garden of church to the left; palms on La Barra de Postosi beach to right of garden photo.
Pastries in Patz. Hotel in Patz below (pink)

Hotel statue above. "Pet" shop in cute. More La Barra below; another patz church.

Local street food -> in Patz.

Plaza in Patz above, more local street food (corn lady).

The fat mermaid restaurant interior w/ painting. Cafe Zihuatanejo to the right w/ hanging lights. Both zihua.
bus to La Barra w/ gordito ;-) & florist arrangement in zih.

birds of paradise in la barra I think.
near the pier in zihua; best breakfast in zih @ cafe zihuatanejo - juevos rancheros - yum

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Trip Report - Patzcuaro

Trip to Patzcuaro
Thursday morning (June 14, 2007) we took a cab from our hotel to the Parkhuni bus station located next door to Estrella de Oro. We purchased our tickets the day before as recommended by Pedro of Casa de Café fame. Luckily our concierge, Antonio told us about the Parkhuni line option in case that Estrella didn’t have a bus running to Patzcuaro which they did not. Thank goodness we knew what to do otherwise we would have stood there feeling helpless. The girls at the Estrella de Oro office spoke no English and I only speak enough Spanish to get by. Having never purchased a bus ticket in Mexico and having never traveled to Patzcuaro before feeling totally lost when they couldn’t meet me halfway with a little Spanish/English compromise. But I do understand the word no J.

We walked directly next door to the much welcomed air conditioned office for the Parkhuni line. I went up to the counter and simply said “boleto a Patzcuaro, por favor”. There was only one bus going that day. She nodded and started typing on her keyboard until she came to the part where she needed our names. She handed me the keyboard to type our names and then pointed to seats to choose from. So it ended up being pretty easy. The cost was $34 per person one way.

As I was saying, we left on Thursday morning at 9. Pedro told me the bus would be nice but I didn’t really believe it until I saw it for myself. The bus was huge with comfortable seats (more comfortable than most planes I’ve flown) with plenty of leg room especially for our tall frames. There were only four of us traveling that day: myself and my husband and a sweet Mexican woman with what looked to be her small granddaughter of about 2 years old. The driver put on some American music which I found interesting and off we went. We stopped fairly soon in Ixtapa after departing. It seemed to take forever for the driver to return and when he did a woman dressed in uniform came aboard and walked up and down the isle and offered us bottles of water. She got off and we went onward. It was a beautiful scenic drive that took 5 hours! We were shown two movies: the horror film, When a Stranger Calls (the remake) and The White Countess. We passed by endless amounts of farm land, mountains and lakes.

Driving into Patzcuaro was a bit like driving into Zihuatanejo. The feeling of “oh shit” this place looks like a dump creeping up. But just like Zihua, the feeling passed quickly as soon as we pulled into the central district. It really comes down to adjustment and expectations. Takes a minute to adjust and as long as you are realistic in your expectations you will be pleasantly surprised again and again!

The bus comes to a stop just outside Casita de Rosie and on the small square with the basilica. This is also where you buy your ticket back to Zihua. We decided to go into Rosie’s to check out her rooms since arriving with no lodging. Rosie has to be one of the sweetest ladies in Patz. She was so helpful and spoke very good English. She happily showed us her little place. Her rooms were clean and simple and only $34 for the night! We thanked her for her kindness and explained we were going to explore a few other places and we might be back. We ended up just down the street from Rosie’s at the Meson de San Antonio.

We decided to splurge since we had planned to only stay the night on this quaint courtyard hotel. ($60US) The hotel had free wireless connection in the rooms which was an added bonus. Alfredo showed us to our room which was tastefully decorated with beautiful linens. The room had high ceilings and a stone floor plus a fireplace and a huge shower. The bed was small (a double) but very comfortable with the best pillows! It was so peaceful here. I was just telling my husband this morning how much I miss the sounds of the tiny birds singing and the roosters crowing (at all hours of the day J they must be the hardest working roosters in the world). I wish I would have recorded the sounds so I could listen to them anytime. The courtyard reminded me of something from the movie Frida. It was decorated with beautiful local furniture, striking flowers and cactus and an open view to the sky.
We left our room to go explore the city. The climate was completely opposite that of Zihuatanejo. It felt amazing if not a bit chilly. We had only brought one pair of pants (thanks to Pedro’s suggestion) but everything else was for Zihua weather. We received the strangest looks as we strolled around in our shorts and short sleeves. I think we were the only Americans we saw that day. I stood out like a sore thumb with my blonde hair, blue eyes and 5’9” frame as did my husband who has Latin roots yet is also very tall. Everyone was so bundled up! We ended up buying a poncho (for my husband) and a knitted shawl (for me) since it did get quite cold in the evening.

Patzcuaro is a colonial city filled with squares, churches and cobbled stoned streets. It has a very European feel with many hidden treasures waiting to be found inside courtyards and down narrow streets.

We had lunch at Campania(?) which is just at the end of the square near the hotel we stayed at (closer to Rosie’s) and it was delicious, quick and only $12US for 2 coffees, 2 waters and 2 entrees. My husband had a hamburger which was fantastic. They put thin slices of deli style ham on top of the burger. I had a little mix up w/ my plate but was happy that either I said the wrong thing or the man taking my order got it wrong. I ended up with milanesa served with French fries and beans. The salsa was amazing. We’re from Texas so we live on salsa. We had a late dinner at some place with Gaucho in the name. Places seemed to close early but this one stayed open later than most. Also, Patzcuaro doesn’t close for siestas as often seen in the beach towns. I guess the climate is so mild there is no need for the afternoon break from the sun. Dinner at the Gaucho restaurant was great Argentine cuisine with good service, cute décor and huge portions. The only thing bad was the Caesar salad which had too much dressing for my taste.

We loved the area so much we couldn’t resist staying another night. We got up Friday morning and walked down to Rosie’s for breakfast. We couldn’t resist repaying her in some way for her hospitality. As expected, breakfast was great and very affordable. We decided to take a taxi to Urapuan to see the National Park. We hopped in our cab and negotiated a price of $20US plus a bit more if we stopped on the way in Timbugato to see the ruins. The weather looked nice in Patz but as we headed out of town clouds, rain and thick fog forced us to turn around just as we approached the ruins. The driver could barely see to drive on the winding roads. We were so disappointed and only prayed the weather would hold up in Patz so we could at least explore the town some more. It was beginning to feel like the day might be a total loss. It wasn’t! When we arrived back in Patz it showered briefly and the sun came out and the afternoon was perfect. We had a fantastic lunch at El Patio off one of the squares – the one with the male statue. There is a square with a female statue nearby. It’s easy to get turned around. I can’t say enough good things about El Patio. Just go see for yourself. I will tell you that they had the best salsas in all of Zihua/Patz combined. Oh, and you must try the Sopa Tarasca!! It’s delicious. Ok, one more thing J get the sweet corn tamales. Fabulous!

Late in the afternoon, we decided to take another shot at Uruapan. We called the same taxi company but got a different driver, Marcelo (car 30 with Ejectivo Co.) Marci was awesome! So friendly and we exchanged English & Spanish lessons on the way. He really made the trip special. I wish I had taken his photo L but I didn’t. The weather had cleared so we stopped at the ruins and Marci walked us to the small entrance that’s at the edge (rear) of the town of Timbugato. The cutest old man came out and for $3.50US each we had the ruins all to ourselves. The man led us around the grounds and made a few attempts at communication. The site of the ruins is small and takes only 10 minutes or so to see everything. The site has been well kept. My only complaint is that there wasn’t more historical information listed on the plaques. At least what information available was listed in both Spanish and English but it wasn’t really much more than you would decipher on your own by just looking. We climbed up to the top of the pyramid and what a view! Just beautiful. He also took us into the tomb which he had to open with a key. So glad we stopped here.

Marci took us on to Uruapan but the park was closed by the time we arrived (closes at 6pm) so we had him drop us off in the center thinking we’d have dinner. Even Marci looked at us like we were crazy but we like to be adventurous. Uruapan is very dirty and very congested. It’s a much larger city than I ever anticipated. It reminded me of Naples, Italy but without the hidden charms. We did get to witness a politician running for gobernador speak to a crowd of people in the square. We walked around for about half an hour. The smell of exhaust for all the traffic was too much so we hopped back into a taxi for the expensive trip back to Patz. Maybe we didn’t give Uruapan a fair shake but not really knowing where to go and not seeing much worth hanging around for we figured better to play it safe in a city we loved.

We arrived back in Patz in time for dinner. We took a regretful chance on the restaurant located at La Posada de Basilica. We had walked in to the hotel the day before and the friendly reception man showed us one of the rooms and the beautiful view from the courtyard (of rooftops & the lake) so we thought the restaurant would be good and I had seen a good review on the msg boards. We should have known better to turn right around and leave the minute we walked in the restaurant. The lone waiter was slumped back in a chair at one of the tables sitting in the dark. It took him a minute to decide to get up to “welcome” us in which wasn’t a welcome more of a pointing toward any table. We sat down and he disappeared into the kitchen. Why we didn’t walk out is beyond me. The service was slow, rude and the food was terrible. Not just terrible but inedible. It’s not even worth mentioning. Just do not go! The only redeeming quality was the view. We did get to see a beautiful sunset. Ugh but even that wasn’t worth it! Disgusting!

There were two really cool bars that we found in Patz. One was on the square (plaza Vasco de Quiroga) with the guy statue next to something San Miguel (a hotel possibly). The guy at the tourist office located at the square recommended it…this is a good place to go if you need information. He spoke great English. There was live music and it was a definite local hangout. The other bar was right next to our hotel – El Satuno, I think. There is actually an entrance that leads underground inside our hotel courtyard to the bar but it’s been closed off. The kitchen and living area of the Meson is hollow underneath thus that is where the bar is located. You walk to the right of the Meson and the first entrance you come to takes you to the bar. It’s like walking into a dungeon (reminded me of Paris). We had some of the best and cheapest frozen margaritas here ($3US each). They were playing old American music videos from the 90s – it was a hoot! They also had a pool table and foosball table. This place rocked.

Patzcuaro might be our favorite part of our trip to Zihua. We’re so glad we went and we’re already discussing plans to go back. We want to explore the National Park, Morelia and San Miguel de Allende is within driving distance. If you have the chance to go, you’ll absolutely fall in love with Patzcuaro.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Zihua Trip Report

Arrived on Sunday, June 10, 2007 for our first time to Zihuatanejo.

Got off the plane and it was the easiest trip through customs I’ve ever had. I think it took 2 minutes.
Based on advice from the msg board we started looking for the taxis outside the gates of the airport. Along the way, a man stopped us and asked it we were with RCI. (we are) He then asked us where we were staying (Villa Vera Puerto Mio we told him) and he told us he was there to take us to our hotel. We were like wow this is new. My husband told him no one from RCI had ever met us before to which is he replied it was a new service. I looked at him and said really thinking to myself since when does RCI do anything but be a pain in your ass? Of course, he was there to “get us” to our hotel for $32! I said, no thanks. I can go right over there and catch a cab for less. He tried to convince me that was not possible and that the information I had was incorrect. I told him I was willing to take my chances and that if in fact I could not get a taxi outside the gate for less then I would come back and give him $32. He looked defeated. Point: me J
We walked the short distance past the entrance which is just a tiny gate, like at a toll booth, and we didn’t get two steps beyond it before a taxi swooped up to take us to our hotel. $20 was our quote. Not bad, hmm? It only cost us $16 on the trip back to the airport from our hotel so maybe we got overpriced but not a big deal.
I admit my husband and I were both a bit worried as we drove into the city and up to our hotel. We’ve been to many parts of Mexico but Zihua was looking pretty rough around the edges. This will probably (no, I’m sure of it knowing they way some tend to respond on the board) will cry foul but here me out…I’m only trying to give a realistic review here for first timers especially. DON’T worry. It’s really not as bad as it seems upon first glance. The city itself is really nice and clean and the people are wonderful. It does smell when you go past that little inner marina which is so strange to find. It’s like, where did that come from and where do the boats go? It seems surrounded by trees. We felt completely safe walking around even at night. So, no worries, ok? It gets better, I promise.
We stayed at the Villa Vera Puerto Mio b/c we have a time share and we have to exchange through RCI so our options were really limited. There are many better places to stay so unless you have to, I would not stay here. If you have no other choice or if you’ve already booked, please don’t worry too much - it wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great either. Lots of people on the board really threw up red flags about this hotel’s location. Everybody has there own opinion and everybody thinks their favorite’s the best but seriously so you always have to keep that in mind when doing your research. The location was actually good. Yes, there are a lot of steps but unless you are physically handicapped or elderly, it’s not a big deal. The path is found by the pool where a set of stairs lead you to a street. Head to your left and you’ll come to a gate that takes you down to the footbridge. Cross that to town and to the pier. It’s an easy walk. It’s the heat/humidity that will get you before the walk does. Just before the bridge, there is a little restaurant on your left that serves great michiladas. This makes a nice place to cool down. Funny story: the building says specializing in Michiladas. On one particularly hot walk, we decided to stop for a Michi…turns out the place that “specializes in Michiladas” was upstairs!! But the ones we had were no disappointment. Again, easy (maybe) 5 minute walk down. VERY convenient to downtown. You can take a cab back up or down to/from hotel from 3-3.50US (depending on the taxi).

The hotel: It’s a nice looking hotel. Huge, beautiful wooden doors at the entrance. Friendly staff including Antonio, the concierge, was helpful. Our first room (yes, the first) was 502. It was on the top floor with the most interesting spiral stone staircase (about 10? Steps) up to the room. This room would not be good for people with trouble with health, etc. as it’s a tight stair climb – you don’t want to be drunk on these steps either!! A likely tumble is in your future. The room had tall ceilings and exposed beams with a really deep window seat above the king size bed. The beds were the best thing about this hotel. Very comfy. Nice size shower/jucuzzi tub and small balcony. We changed rooms b/c the smell was unbelievable. When we walked in I looked at the guy w/ our bags and said “do you smell that”…now again, I’ve been to mexico before and I know that sometimes you get that smell but this was overwhelming. He sniffed the air and shook his head no and said he didn’t smell anything. My husband thought he smelled cleaning solution so I decided to just go with it and not make a fuss. We’re happy to finally be in our room (which took forever due to the very late check in) and sit down for a second. The view was fantastic.

We went into town for dinner at Kau Kan which was just great with some of the prettiest views of the bay, fantastic service and great food. We enjoyed the sunset and sunk into our chairs and enjoyed our first night in Zihua. Coincidentally, we ran into friends at the restaurant. We all headed back to the Villa Vera hoping to sit at the bar and stare at the nice ocean view at the restaurant level. The restaurant/bar was closed (closed even at 10pm which sucked) so we took them up to show them our room and grab some beers from the mini fridge. I had warned them about the smell and they said their bathroom smelled a little at times (Villas de Morro?? Again coincidence – they were about 100 yards walking distance from our hotel) but when they walked in they made it clear it wasn’t the normal smell. There was a serious problem and it was happening in the shower area. They definitely said it was bad and this time even my husbang agreed it smelled worse than when we arrived. We walked down w/ our beers to sit in the empty restaurant and I decided to say something to the night reception. He looked at us as if we were from another planet and it wasn’t because he didn’t speak or understand English. He wouldn’t even respond to our questions. Seriously, he was the weirdest person so needless to say he never offered to check the room. We told the guest relations person in the morning and she was very apologetic and said she would get us a new room. The room she was moving us to needed to be cleaned and readied which took I swear at least 5 hours. We lucked out and got room 302 with a HUGE balcony. I’m talking enormous. Two couches, coffee table, even a sink. So we felt like we scored by sleeping through the smell. The room was basically very similar – same huge, comfy bed, separate shower and bath and huge Jacuzzi tub. The AC was only in the bedroom and took a long time to cool the room since there were gaps in the windows and no ceiling fans (unlike 502 which had a ceiling fan over the bed and in the bathroom). Once the room finally cooled…no complaints until the first and every time the staff came in to clean. They would turn the AC off when they left so when we got back in the evening or afternoon we’d come into a really hot room. I understand saving electricity but w/ the poor insulation it came off more and being cheap than conservative. I would rather conserve elsewhere like less changing out of towels. During our stay, the cleaning staff never cleaned the bath tub and there was a little spill of something that sat on a counter the entire seven days without being cleaned. Just minor details that should have been taken care of especially with the extra $25 cleaning service charge added onto by the hotel. They did leave beautiful floral designs on the bed everyday. We did have another issue with the AC – it wouldn’t cool, fan would work so that had to be fixed. The morning we got up to leave we woke up to a bad leak in the bathroom coming from the ceiling. Unfortunately we had sat our suitcase in that exact spot so it got wet. Perhaps it was b/c we were checking out that day but they didn’t seem in a hurry to repair the leak. So even as we left for our noon departure it still was raining in the bath area. They never offered to accommodate us for our troubles (other than the room change) which would have been welcomed. Something as simple as a complimentary drink from the bar…anything would have been welcomed especially when we were asked to wait such a lengthy time for a second room.

One night when we got in late from out on the town we arrived to locked doors and no one in the reception. We literally had to break in to get into the hotel. We banged profusely for about 10 minutes before my husband resorted to breaking and entering. He even tried ringing the phone from the darkened security post hoping someone somewhere would hear it in the reception but again silence. Thank goodness we found a way in through an open window (well, a window w/ no glass) but my husband had to crawl across a tile roof to get to it…fun, eh? We asked the next morning if there was a curfew we should have been told about and they said no and seemed shocked that nobody was there as there should have been someone at both the reception & the security post. Nice.
So, overall…good things about the Villa Vera Puerto Mio:
- convenient to town
- beautiful views
- Hugo, in the restaurant, was great
- The tiritas here were the best we had probably in all of Zih, I know weird.
- Antonio, the concierge
- Great, huge king beds, super comfortable
- Small property, not a big, artificial resort
The bad:
- smelly room and obvious sewer/drainage problems
- the water from the sink in the bath was always hot even from the cold side
- unresponsive staff on certain occasions
- the air conditioning issues during an extremely hot stay in June and the fact they would not leave it on in the room
- no free internet service. They charge you to use their internet and there is no way to print from the computer which would be really helpful when checking in online/printing boarding passes and such. Finding out on the last day of a week’s stay that they had wireless connection available the entire time for a weekly charge…what?!?
- The fact that they would come into your room even when you had a Do Not Disturb sign on the door (thus turning off the AC).
- A charge each time you dial out even using a phone card.
Overall, it wasn’t terrible and I’m sure could have been worse but I’ve definitely had better, more thoughtful service with better facilities at other Mexican hotels.

Restaurants, Cafes & Bars:
Kau Kan: La Ropa area
Fantastic sunset views and service, really awesome food. Small, intimate restaurant. Be sure to order the sushi like tuna stuffed w/ sea bass appetizer. We ordered the black bean soup upon suggestion – it was good but spicy and rich.

Café Zihuatanejo: Downtown Zihua near the craft market
My favorite place for breakfast and coffee in Zih (La Casa Café was closed so couldn’t compare at time of visit). The same guy was working each of our 3 visits except our last. It’s best when he does the preparation. Fantastic juevos rancheros served with even better black beans. The juevos mexicana was really good too. Wonderful cappuccinos and the frapp (cold coffee) are both excellent. It’s hot, get the frapp. The menu is slightly confusing especially if your Spanish isn’t so hot and they don’t speak any English here so stick with what’s recognizable J Hot cakes were really good too (on the day the guy wasn’t there, a woman instead she served it with honey and not syrup. I couldn’t communicate for syrup as I didn’t know the Spanish word. Is this normal to serve pancakes with honey?) It was still good if not a bit strange. My husband had a hamburguesa one morning. I don’t think he knew he was getting an actual hamburger at breakfast but it was still good. You’d be surprised what comes out of this absolutely tiny kitchen. Kinda hard to’s on a pedestrian only street and note there is another Café Zihuatanejo that serves on the coffee beans and not the other. Cost for two with breakfast, coffees, water $17-19 US.

Salvador’s: over on Calle Adelita.
We went here one day after walking over to specifically go to La Casa Café which was closed. We were not disappointed. Salvador’s is really just a few tables outside. Friendly, quick service. Amazingly cheap! Really good food. Best cheap breakfast in Zihua. We tried the juevos rancheros and juevos mexicana plus coffee and water for $6.50! Yeah, buddy! What a steal.

De Donde Eres: on Calle Adelita.
My favorite restaurant in Zih. You can’t ask for a more unique and welcoming experience. Sabrina is the highlight of the visit (well, besides the food)…she’s Italian so if there is something on the menu for the night that is an Italian dish, get it as it is bound to be delicious. Three dishes served a night depending on what’s fresh. Be sure to get dessert and coffee as it is true Italian style coffee even though she admits its Mexican coffee. You get a little appetizer on the house. Only open Tuesday – Friday for dinner. We had two entrees, alcoholic drinks, water, dessert and coffee for $33 US. A must go-to place.

Caprichios: Downtown Zihua.
Elegant eclectic was especially beautiful by candlelight. If I went back to this restaurant, I’d probably only go for drinks and hit the De Donde Eres twice J. It does have a cool courtyard patio but if I had to do it over, I would sit at the front of the restaurant just for the amazing ambiance and to avoid the ants in the courtyard. All depends on your cup of tea. The service was good but not exceptional as it is one of the pricier places in town. The food is good. We tried the carparchio style fish appetizer which was really good. A mixed salad with apples and goat cheese was great. My pasta dish was excellent – had a spicy yet light sauce. My husband and friend’s boyfriend both had steak and both said they were overcooked. We had some sort of banana flambé – it was ok, if not a bit on the burnt side - probably something better on the menu. Fantastic frozen margaritas: Not too sweet, not too sour. Just right. Expensive - $140US for 4 people.

La Gula: on Calle Adelita
Wonderful meal for our last night in town. Beautiful, charming restaurant. Superb service and a very interesting menu with crazy good presentation.
What we had: For appetizer: the empanada (I think called a pasta turnover) filled with fish topped w/ a cold dressing was very good. The palm salad – wow. Served in a huge martini glass. Very fresh, dill dressing, awesome. The gula salad – good too, very different, it was a fish salad.
The mignon w/ the coffee sauce – best freaking steak our entire trip. Cooked to perfection. Really unique cold potato salad like side w/ a thin zucchini slice wrap, a nice light side to the steak. Steak Burritos were fantastic too. Big portions. Bread is served with dinner with a great flavored butter. Great dessert was a chocolate cake. With drinks and waters: $62 US for two people. If you have to throw down some cash to feel like you are on vacation, go to La Gula.

Bandidos: downtown Zih
Only had drinks and chips & salsa here. My husband went nuts over the salsas. They were good. A bit pricier than some places but a good place for people watching. Live music some nights we passed by.

Splash: downtown Zih
This places make me crack up. It’s a karaoke bar. Pretty cool on the inside with its blue walls and crazy paintings. Two floors with scattered tables. We sat at the bar and I felt sorry for the huge fish stuck in the tiny aquarium (the one actually built into the bar) and we had fun listening to the locals sing random songs in Spanish and we’d chime in if only to laugh at ourselves. You get teased with fun American top 40 music on random occasion b/t karaoke sets.

Barracuda: downtown Zih
Loved this little outdoor bar with its lighted sea shells dancing on the bar.

Elvira’s: on La Ropa beach
The locals were hanging out here so we thought this would be a good place. Spicy pico de gallo, fresh guacamole, cold beers and really friendly service. They have a few caged parrots and one for sure will say “hola” to you. They had a small wade pool w/ slide for kids. Special treat: getting an up close look at the baby sea turtle awaiting release.

Il Mare: La Ropa area
Beautiful views perched above the rocks. Italian fare. This is a really cute place unfortunately they spoil the views with cheesy Italian music played at an obnoxious volume that forces people to shout at each other to be heard and drowns the sound of waves crashing against the rocks. The service wasn’t as attentive here as other places at the price level. Dinner was ok but I feel like I have had the same sauce from a jar from the grocery store and the caprese salad was overshadowed by spices. Expensive.

Villa Vera Puerto Mio restaurant: at the hotel
I can’t remember the restaurant name but we ate here twice, once for an afternoon snack and once for breakfast. Unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy the breakfast as we’d had dinner at Il Mare the night before and something in the food made me sick to my stomach. I think there was garlic in something I ate (I’m allergic) –no problem with freshness of food. Anyway, we had the tiritas here which was the best and most affordable in town – even better/cheaper than on La Barra which shocked me. We also had some of the best guacamole and pico de gallo we had the entire trip. Good service – ask for Hugo. Not too expensive. Our friends ate here for dinner and said it was great. Beautiful ocean view.

Villa Del Sol: bar beside the beach
Beautiful property with gorgeous views. $11US for two michiladas.

Las Gatas: $3.50US rt/pp
Loved it here…very relaxing and quiet, beautiful sand (but partially rocky bottoms) and plenty of places to choose from. You can snorkel out by the rocks here.
We sat at Otilia’s (if you are looking at the beach it’s to your right close to the end.
And our waiter was great. They have hammocks too in addition to loungers. If you order a pina colada, specify in the glass ($5) otherwise they automatically bring you the one in the pineapple which is beautiful don’t get me wrong but it’s also $10. Again, kind of our staple lunch in Mexico – fantastic guac, pico and corn tortillas and fish tacos $10US.

La Ropa: a completely different view of the bay. The only beach you can see the open water. Sandy beach; sandy bottoms; Lots of activities; Busy beach.

La Madera: the one by town. Nice pathway to walk along at night. Several restaurants located on this beach.

La Barra de Potosi: a 45 minute local bus ride ($1.40 pp plus $1 on a flat bed truck to get you down to beach). An interesting, safe and fun experience. The beach was nearly deserted when we arrived. You’ll find soft brown sand, no rocks anywhere. It’s not really a swimming beach due to the break but fun to get in and cool down. We sat at emerada La Condesa where other locals joined us. Good service, great food, really good pina coladas. Cheap – we had quite a bit of food and drink for $20-25US. Unless you really want to get away from it all, I suggest going to Las Gatas for a similar experience that’s quiet and a lot closer in.

Zihua was a beautiful and friendly place to visit. We’ll definitely be back.