Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

Last month we finally got to head to Nuevo Vallarta, in Riviera Nayarit Mexico for a little fun and relaxation in the sun! I was kind of concerned that I may have pulled the trigger too quickly when booking this one, because I hadn’t done much research prior. When I checked Trip Advisor after the fact, it seemed like there were quite a few, not glowing, reviews. Here’s my feedback of our winter getaway:

Nuevo Vallarta–LOVE THIS PLACE! IMG_1716I think this is my new favorite destination in Mexico. Nuevo Vallarta is a small town just up the road from Puerto Vallarta and down the road from Bucerias. One thing I love about the whole area around Banderas Bay, is that it’s a conglomerate of numerous other small towns.  Nearby is Sayulita, which is known for it’s restaurants and souvenir shopping, the town of Yelapa is a small fishing village at the foot of the mountains and can only reached by boat, and the town I was dying to see, but ran out of time for, San Sebastian, which is a small, UNESCO World Heritage town frozen in the days of silver mining. Most of the towns were so beautifully colorful.IMG_1932Nuevo Vallarta was a part of Mexico that felt very safe. In the early morning hours, while on our balcony watching the sun rise over the Sierra Madre mountains, I would see people getting their walks or runs in on the street and sidewalks below. IMG_1727Our resort, which shared some of it’s amenities with a condo complex, was within walking distance to a farmer’s market, casino, and numerous restaurants. A lot of the snowbirds staying in the condos said they were able to walk or take a taxi to most places they needed to go.IMG_1736The local people were so friendly and accommodating. It seemed like everywhere we went, we had no trouble finding English speaking locals, which only meant my Spanish practice was again put on hold! Service, whether it be at the resort or in town or on an excursion, was top notch every where we turned. Everyone was just so nice, even those who wanted to step into the political discussions of President Trump’s policies.

We also befriended a couple of Canadian expatriates who were very elated to now be living there. They said that all they had to do to for temporary residency was prove that they had access to income the equivalent of 300 days worth of living at minimum wage (US$1400). For permanent residency, you would need to have an income the equivalent of 500 days worth of living (US$2,325). They had established a temporary residency and were living very comfortably in a 2 bedroom bungalow with all their monthly bills covered, along with the “typical” Mexican home conveniences of a cook, housekeeper, and a gardener. They were also in the process of establishing their own business of a fleet of sailboats for whale watching tourist excursions. IMG_1933They estimated that within 3 years their business would be thriving in the Mexican economy, especially with the good exchange rate of $19MXN to the $US1.

The only drawbacks on this trip, is that I wouldn’t consider the restaurants to be the caliber of the “unlimited luxury” that the resort boasts. The buffet restaurant was comparable to any other all inclusive resort and accurate to the Trip Advisor reviews–lukewarm and redundant food choices. The a la carte restaurants were pretty good–but, for instance, the steakhouse did not serve prime grade steaks–which is what I would consider unlimited luxury.

It was the little details that the resort was missing the target on. In contrast, I loved the soups served at the restaurants and you can read that post here.

The other disappointment in our resort was how the staff–almost all of them–kept pushing the “Unlimited Vacation Club” meeting. You can read more about that here. If the staff had spent half their time paying attention to the little details of the resort, instead of the time they spent trying to convince us to attend the meeting (we had already attended an AMResorts meeting last year in Huatulco). I may have been able to consider this a top of the line vacation. Who wants to be cooped up in a 2 hour meeting while on vacation? I don’t. And once I said no thanks, I really didn’t need to be asked again.

Would I return to Nuevo Vallarta again? Most certainly! In the future, I would like to spend about a month in the area, so I would have the time to see what I didn’t get to on this trip and get more familiar with the area. Would I stay in the same resort again? Uhhh, probably not. But I would consider renting one of the condos on the other side.

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Our Day at the St. Louis Fox Theatre

We started off our day last weekend at Sweetie Pie’s Upper Crust. You order your food cafeteria style and then they carry it to your table. If you haven’t been, you might want to try it. It’s some good soul food. I did have the pork steak in gravy and let me tell you, I didn’t even need a knife to cut it, it just fell apart using my fork. It was so tender and the flavor of the gravy just added to it. The macaroni and cheese was pretty tasty, and even the green beans were good. They had chunks of potatoes in them as well, which was an added bonus! Some of the fam had the fried chicken which looked very good, but I didn’t try it. Oh, and don’t let me forget the cornbread which was served warm and just sweet enough.IMG_1599After lunch, we headed over to the theatre. We had a great time at the Fox Theatre, seeing School of Rock. If you have kids or teens you’d like to take there, it’s a show they would really enjoy. The most impressive part was when the young actors were “performing” in the band onstage. We could see the orchestra put their instruments aside and applaud each performance. These youngsters were actually playing their own instruments in the play and doing an incredible job! They got a standing ovation at the end.IMG_1600After all this fun, we headed back for home in Columbia, MO and dropped the kids off at their various activities for the evening. Once that was done, we had time to drop into one of my favorite sushi places, Sake Japanese Bistro and Bar, and have some dinner. They were running a special for Restaurant Week, and it was a hit with us.IMG_1601All in all, it was a busy day, but we crammed in a lot of activity. I’m looking forward to next weekend, when we only have to spend an hour on the road to get to the Lake condo! It should be a little more relaxing.

Rolling Into a New Year at the Lake

We wound down our year 2017 at the Lake of the Ozarks condo. Some of our friends joined us throughout the weekend. We arrived Friday night, and did some shopping on Saturday. We stocked up on coffee for the Keurig and wine for cocktails in the Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker. We did a little furniture shopping, where I found these Ashley Furniture Charlowe Nightstands which will go perfectly in the master bedroom.

InkedIMG_1540_LIAnd we made a final stop at my favorite place to shop, Coral Reef Seafood , to stock up on crab legs for NYE dinner. If you are EVER anywhere in the Lake Ozark area, in Mid-Missouri, in the middle of the United States, you must stop here to shop for the best seafood we have access to! You can also read all about them in my earlier post Coral Reef Seafood. I absolutely LOVE this store!

I also picked up some shrimp (a MUST) and my friends purchased the Seafood Stuffed Orangy Roughy that is like a party in your mouth! (I hope they never changes this recipe.)

Our BIG mistake was going out to dinner later at a restaurant called Redhead Lakeside Grill. I don’t mean “mistake” in that any of our dinner was less than good. I mean mistake in that it was so cold walking from the parking lot to the restaurant it somewhat diminished my experience there. Once inside, I don’t think I ever got warm, so instead of having a great, leisurely time, I was just ready to go home and get under a nice warm blanket. We’ll have to go back and try again when the weather starts to warm back up. There were lots of items on the menu that I can’t wait to try.

Since the temperature at the lake was a not-so-balmy 0-degrees, we wound up planning to stay in for the New Year’s Eve celebration for a quiet night in the warmth. Hubby wanted to play Cards Against Humanitybut we never got around to it. After eating crab legs (and pizza for those who don’t like crab), we checked out Ryan Seacrest in Times Square on TV and watched the ball drop to start off another year. We did have champagne, which I single-handedly attempted not to let go to waste.

It was a low-key New Year’s Eve, but that’s ok. We wrapped it up the way we wanted to with friends we wanted to be with. Maybe next year will be warmer. Or, maybe next year we’ll be on a beach somewhere much warmer! Either way, there’s a whole new year ahead of us and it will be what we make of it.

Lake Ozark, MO–Our Little Slice UPDATE

Well, we’ve gone and done it now. We are headed down to Lake of the Ozarks, MO this afternoon to close the sale on a lake condo. Never mind that it’s a 56 degree day in November. We are buying a condo on the lake that will now be our vacation weekend-get-away. Sound like lots of fun once summer comes back around! So this place is turning out to be lots of fun already!  We’re headed back down again this weekend and are taking the kids to see it.  (They don’t yet know that we’ve bought the condo, but I think they’ll figure it out when they see a family pic hanging on the wall.) We’ve got a few friends coming over to visit and see the place and lots of munchies and adult beverages stashed in the fridge.

In the meantime, while the condo comes in decent shape and semi furnished, we know we have some work to do. We know we will be painting all the walls and possibly replacing the flooring. We haven’t seen the place in 6 months and don’t really remember if the carpet is worth salvaging. It turns out the entire condo is getting a coat of paint and we’ve decided the carpet in the living room, dining room and hallway is getting ripped up and replaced with laminate flooring.

I presume I’ll have to be doing some shopping as well. Even though the seller sent us an inventory list, it’s pretty non-descriptive. So, while it lists a coffee maker, I can’t assume it is a Kuerig single serve like hubby is a fan of. Here’s the actual Kuerig we went with:

It’s adorbs, and my favorite color, and now it looks like I have a reason to accent the kitchen in red. Not to mention, it brews a perfect cup of decaf every time so I can make a tasty Fragile Baby.

The inventory list makes no mention of dishes in the kitchen, bed linens, or bath towels, so I’ve already started shopping around. Turns out the dishes don’t need to be replaced. There are two small sets–one of floral ceramic and one of sailboats on Melamine. These will do just fine for a while and they’ve all been cleaned and are ready for use.

I found some non-patterned dishes that will go with all the decor and any colors we choose. They aren’t pricey, so if we were to rent out the place for a weekend and someone broke a plate, I wouldn’t be heartbroken and the plate could easily be replaced.

Sheets? I went with good quality, but again, in nice, neutral colors. I ended up going with a set of ivory color and a set of sand color. The 3rd set of sheets came in the bed in a bag set and looks like this: 

I thought I knew what kind of artwork I wanted on the walls–something beachy. But, I think I’ve changed my mind. I think I’ve decided on lighthouses for the living room. We are on Lighthouse Point on the Lake after all. Maybe we’ll go beachy in the bedrooms and bathrooms.

I’m still looking for the right pics to put on the walls and now I’m not going to focus so much on a theme, but I’m going to look for the right vibe in the right colors.

Regardless, the decorating possibilities are endless! I can’t wait to see how this place turns out! Luckily, it’s coming along and will be further along after this weekend. Please comment any suggestions you have to make this condo feel like a vacay.