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Old 07-24-2010   #1 (permalink)
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CharlieBoy's adventures in Playa july 2010

Not really a trip report, just some observations on where I stayed, food, drink, people I met, and some of the beach bars I remember. Iím not sure if Iíve written anything that hasnít been written before but maybe someone will find something helpful. This is just my take. Your mileage may vary.

I tend to travel last minute and many times let the deals dictate my destination. I caught a sale on Air Tran from Atlanta for $99 each way to Cancun. Thatís a good price. Knowing it was low season I figured I could find a last minute deal at a hotel or condo. I got lots of good advice from this board and was about to book the Playa Palms when I decided to check VRBO for condos. I made several inquiries and asked if anyone was willing to discount.


Joe the owner of the Plantation house responded quickly. Since it was only a few days before arrival he was willing to offer a further discount off of his already reduced rate. I checked out the photos, made sure that he provided in-suite internet (a hard thing to come by in Playa for some reason) and agreed. He was great to work with. I paid a deposit through Pay Pal and he sent me instructions on how to get there and get into the unit.

Plantation house was built by Joe and has a Key West/Caribbean look and feel to it. It is U-shaped and contains 6 units. The location is perfect on 1st Ave between 12th and 14th. 1 Ĺ blocks to the beach and 1 Ĺ blocks to middle of 5th. Also that particular area is very quiet. I never heard the clubs even though I kept the windows open. Which reminds me, I never turned on the AC. Even though it was July, the unit can be securely opened on all sides to allow the breeze through. I like that.

I stayed in one of two matching penthouse units. My unit (St. Lucia) was two stories. The first floor was the kitchen/living/dining area and had a bathroom. Large glass doors opened to a very narrow balcony but offered a great view of the sea over the top of the property in front. The architecture is cool with lots of wood. For example part of the ceiling on the first floor is the wooden floor from the bedroom above. The furniture and decorations were also done well.
The dining area:



Living Area:



The kitchen area was small but had the essentials. A fridge, a 2-burner cooktop, microwave, coffee pot, pots, pans, dishes, and silverware. More than adequate for me.


Upstairs is the bedroom with a great view and plenty of storage space. There is a large deck off this room with plenty of room for 2 loungers. There was also a laundry closet off the deck with a clothes washer- very handy. No need for a dryer as the clothes line worked fine. Beside the laundry closet is a bathroom with an outdoor shower next to it. A nice set up.
Bedroom and upper deck:


View from the top:



I bumped into the owner Joe a few times and we chatted a bit. Super nice guy. He also arranged very reasonable transport for me back to the airport. Iím sure it changes but it was $20 US (per person I think but it was just me) for a private car and the driver was exactly on time.

Would I go back? Absolutely. It was perfect for my needs and the whole experience was totally hassle-free. Thanks Joe!

http://www.vrbo.com/63628
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Last edited by CharlieBoy; 07-24-2010 at 11:11 PM..
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Old 07-24-2010   #2 (permalink)
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Beach Bars

Beach Bars

Bad Boys- I went to the Bad Boys for the 7/10 Peep Meet. This is where I met Mrs and Mr Looking4Sun. I think we were the only ones there from the board. It wasnít busy at all but the music was great and we had a swell time.


Over the next few days I stopped in from time to time to shoot the breeze with Erica the bartender. Sheís a hoot and knows how to make a drink.

Fusion- I hung out at Fusion for a couple of days just lying on a lounger. I liked it there. The music was good, the beers were reasonable, and they had specials on cubetas (buckets). Later in the week I switched from carrying a beach bag to using a soft cooler as a beach bag. This turned out to be a good idea because I could order a bucket and then set the whole thing in the cooler. The beers stayed ice cold for hours.


Mamitas- I spent one day at Mamitas with the Looking4Suns. We sat around and had a good time. Mamitas is fine but was a bit of a walk in the wrong way for me. But I would go back.

Wickys- I never spent the day in a beach chair there but I had several drinks over a few days at the bar/restaurant area. Itís an inviting place. The prices were reasonable (60 pesos for a Paloma I think) and I really liked the feel of the place. Itís a comfortable place to sit and have a drink and I suppose some food as you look out over the beach and the sea. One afternoon there was a duo playing good Latin music. Nice. Iíll be back for sure.





Zenzi- Went to Zenzi on the Sunday of the final World Cup game. It was wall to water people. Packed. I had a beer while looking for the Looking4Suns and listened to but could not see the last 20 minutes of the game. After the game I caught up to them and we were sitting out on the beach. No one was coming by for service even though the game was over and most of the crowd had dispersed so I decided I would go to the bar and get us some cold adult beverages. Iím standing at the bar waiting on a waiter when I glance to my right and who is standing beside me dressed like she is on her way to the opera? My buddyís psychotic ex-girlfriend from Puerto Vallarta. Yikes! Has she seen me? No? Good. I slowly and quietly took a step back, as if I had almost stepped on a copperhead. The damndest things happen in Mexico. I went back to the Looking4Suns and explained why I was empty handed. Mr Looking4Sun then went to the bar but after 15 minutes or so was unable to get a waiterís attention. We left. Will I go back? Not sure. Could be dangerous!

Bad Boys Revisited- I caught the music again on Thursday and Saturday. There were more people on that 2nd Saturday. I was a little sad because the Looking4Suns had left. But on Saturday I met Mr and Mrs Cancun. MrCancun is evidently a bit of a rabble rouser but I enjoyed talking to him and his wife. It was her birthday so we celebrated a bit.



Iíll be back to Bad Boys.

Last edited by CharlieBoy; 08-05-2010 at 08:35 AM..
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Old 07-24-2010   #3 (permalink)
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Food

Babes Noodle Bar- I had dinner there with Mrs and Mr Looking4Sun. Not great and not bad- the food that is. The company was great and itís a good spot to people watch. I also had a couple of Mojitos there. They were a little sweet for my taste but it was hot outside and they were ice cold. I was happy with them and overall happy with Babes. Iíll be back.

Carboncitos- I ate at Carcboncitos 3 times- mainly out of convenience. Several of the places where I wanted to eat ( El Fogon, H&C Butcher Shop, Taco del Rey, Tango Taco) donít open until 1:00 or so and I always seemed to be too early. The first meal there was the Tacos Pastor. Iíve eaten a lot tacos and a lot of pastor in Mexico. This was a huge dish, enough for two. Service was a bit slow but the price was reasonable considering the location. They werenít great but they were good. Good enough that I ate them twice.

One morning I had chilequilas there. Iíve also eaten a lot of these. Similar to the tacos, these were your standard variety good chilequilas with chicken. Not great but Iíll be back.

El Jurado- I found this place while looking for H &C which wasnít open yet. Iíve never even heard of huaraches but they looked interesting so I ordered that and a beer. Sweet Baby Jesus what a find! These things are rectangular in shape, maybe 4Ē x 8Ē. The base is like a cross between a tortilla and tomal masa dough. Thicker than a tortilla but thinner than tomal dough. And made with lard which flavors it perfectly. This is then topped (in my case) with arracherra beef, cheese, onions, and peppers. Served with a side of picante pepper salsa. Heaven on a plate. I could eat this every day. Will I be back? Oh yeah.

Las Cazuelas- I stumbled on to this tiny place (4 tables if I remember) because I noticed Ciappino on the menu board. Ciappino? I love that stuff. One of my favorite dishes. But in Mexico? On the east coast? Hmmm. But it smells good in here so I should check this out. I order a beer and am just about to order the ciappino when the waiter brings out a dish and serves it to the table next to me. Wait! Whatís that? Paella... Seafood Paella. And it looks and smells really good.

I apologized to the gentlemen for staring at his food and asked him about it. It turns out that he is from Mexico city and his English is about as good as my Spanish. But we make do. He tells me that he has eaten this 3 times in 5 days. Between the look and smell of the dish and his new found addiction, Iím sold. The ciappino will have to wait. I order the paella and was really glad I did. It was the best Iíve ever had. Very well done with large prawns, fish, clams, etc. It was truly a beautiful thing. 180 pesos and worth every centavo. There is no way Iím not going back to Las Cazuelas.

Playa Maya Restaurant- I only had some quesadillas there but they were good. I enjoyed sitting below the palapa and the beer was cold. Iíll be back.

Tacombia- Iím walking along and all of a sudden what the hell is that? A VW bus parked off of the street. With the top opened up like a door. And a lady standing insideÖpreparing tacos. The inside has been re-fitted into a taco stand. I take a quick look at her preparation and decide I must have one, or four. I order a chicken and a pork. The chicken is just ok but the pork is pretty good so I order 2 more. If it wasnít cooked inside of a VW I doubt I would go back. But it was novel for sure. Iíll probably return.


Last edited by CharlieBoy; 07-28-2010 at 10:07 PM..
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Old 07-24-2010   #4 (permalink)
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Drink

Beer Bucket- Went there once. It was about half full. I was having a good time until a speechless drunken local decided to latch on to me after I gave him a cigarette. He just stood there and kept making funny faces at me. He seemed harmless enough but totally weird and gave me the creeps. I couldnít shake the guy so I finished my beer and left. Iíll probably be back as long as he isnít.

Blue Parrot- After dinner at Babeís, Mr Looking4Sun and I were looking for a place to smoke a cigar. The Blue Parrot seemed like a logical spot because itís on the beach. It was early and empty- perfect. The 3 of us were the only customers there. So we order drinks but the bartender was incoherent. He didnít know if they served wine or not but he did manage to sell us three expensive drinks. We had our cigars and cleared out of there. I might try it again.

El Bar- I visited El Bar 3 times. The first time it was about 10:00 pm and I think I was the only customer. The beer was cold and cheap and I was hungry. I ordered some beef tacos and they called out to the restaurant across the street to make and deliver them. They were possibly the worst tacos I have ever had in Mexico (Iíve had worse in the States though). Tasteless and full of gristle. Yuck.

That said I visited 2 more times to have beers and BS with some expats and had a great time. Iíll be back.

Dirty Martini- It seemed that there was usually no way for to get back to the Plantation House without passing this tiny little bar. And it also seemed like I couldnít pass it without stopping by- always glad that I did. Itís so small that there is no way that you wonít be drawn into conversation. I met the owners, some locals, some ex pats, and some visitors and had a good time every time. Never had a martini but the beer was cold and cheap. Iíll be back.

Deseo- I was supposed to meet the Looking4Suns there for drinks one night. I got the time mixed up and arrived too early, about 9:00 I think. I was one of two customers. The place had a cool vibe and was showing a famous Mexican movie from the 50s on an exterior wall. I ordered a Don Julio and sangrita and sat down. The tequila was good but the sangrita wasnít. 110 pesos lighter, I left. Ouch! I can mark this one off my list.

Tequila Barrel- The first bar I stopped in was the Tequila Barrel. I was fresh off the ADO bus and pulling my roller board up 5th. I was hot and their beer was cold-perfect! I stopped there several times over the week. Good service, cold beer, and great people watching. Iíll be back.

Last edited by CharlieBoy; 08-01-2010 at 01:00 PM..
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Old 07-24-2010   #5 (permalink)
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Live Music

La Bodeguita del Medio- I love this place. Probably stopped in 5 or 6 times. All but once during the day. Iíve been to their branch in Vallarta but this one is nicer. Without a doubt the best Mojitos Iíve ever had. Not as sweet as the ones at Babeís and served in a smaller glass which means the rum is more concentrated. Excellent. Went one night and caught the band. Had a great time with some folks that I met from Colorado. Iíll be back.




Karenís Ė I know that there are folks here who donít care for this place but I had an excellent time on 3 or 4 different nights. I wasnít there to eat and didnít. I was there for the live music. They had a very good trio there each night. They mainly played Latino hits and also did some good covers of US music. I always got great service and my bill was accurate every time. I switched between Don Julio and Herradura tequila with very good sangrita. 60 pesos-very reasonable. Iíll be back.
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Old 07-24-2010   #6 (permalink)
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Tidbits and end notes

Smartest thing I did- Used a soft cooler for a beach bag. Load it up. Go to the beach. Take your stuff out. Order a bucket of beer. Place bucket in cooler. Rinse and repeat.

Dumbest thing I did- Forgot my daughterís upcoming birthday, then changed my departure day only to have to change if back. $400 worth of stupid.

Cultural Experience- Got to watch my driver pay a mordita to a cop. On the way back to the airport a cop saw my driver using his radio while driving in Playa. 15 minutes, 100 pesos, and 10 US dollars later, we were on our way again. I felt bad for the guy since the reason he was on the radio was because he was asking how many pesos he should charge me as I didnít have any US currency. But then I noticed that he got back on the radio and told everyone he knew the story. I tipped him 200 pesos and I think his day got a little brighter.

So thatís it. I had a great time. Iíll be back.

Last edited by CharlieBoy; 07-25-2010 at 12:10 AM..
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Old 07-24-2010   #7 (permalink)
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This is a great summary of your trip! I never had thought about using a cooler for a beach bag. Great idea!
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Old 07-25-2010   #8 (permalink)
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Great pics & TR. Keep it coming.
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Old 07-25-2010   #9 (permalink)
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Great report and pic's.
Is there more?
Where is del Medio?
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Old 07-25-2010   #10 (permalink)
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great report, thanks for sharing. the plantation house looks like a cool place.
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Old 07-25-2010   #11 (permalink)
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Great report and pic's.
Thanks,
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Old 07-25-2010   #12 (permalink)
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Nice mini-report, great pics. I loved Senor Tacombi; had some very good shrimp tacos there in February.
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Old 07-25-2010   #13 (permalink)
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Nice report and pictures!! Thanks for sharing it with us!
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Old 07-25-2010   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdogmom View Post
Nice mini-report, great pics. I loved Senor Tacombi; had some very good shrimp tacos there in February.


just be careful about giving him large bills
a word to the wise
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Old 07-25-2010   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HAWKEYE View Post
Great report and pic's.
Is there more?
Where is del Medio?
BdM is at the very Southern end of 5th. There is a mall type area there arranged in a square. BdM faces North- beside a Harley Davidson clothes store.

I didn't really plan or prepare to do a trip report so there is no more.
That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!
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