Posted by Vi Warkentin on
No better way to get to know a place than to get out and hike around. You never know what you’ll discover! And discover I did - on Sylvie Scopazza’s ‘Power Walk the Hidden Streets of Puerto Vallarta‘ tour booked through Tours Du Jour Mexico.
The first part of the tour had us hiking from The Arches on the Malecon through quaint, cobblestone streets to steps and paths winding their way to the top of the hills in El Centro. From the cross perched high above the city we took in the amazing panoramic views of Puerto Vallarta, then descended back down via steep stairs, narrow paths and streets.
Our next stop is at Los Cuatro Vientos Hotel & Chez Elena Restaurant, tour around the grounds and the owner is kind to let us take in the views from their rooftop deck. Again, more fantastic views overlooking Puerto Vallarta.
From the expansive rooftop of Hotel Los Cuatro Vientos, the panoramic views of Puerto Vallarta are spectacular.Here we are looking at El Centro below, the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Banderas Bay and the beautiful Sierra Madre mountains beyond.We glance over our shoulders and look back towards the hills and the cross from which we have just hiked from.
We continue down the street and stop by Esquina de los Caprichos, a small Spanish Tapas Bar/Restaurant located on one of PV’s many charming cobblestone streets.
We are invited into the tiny and quaint open air patio beyond the kitchen and are treated to incredibly tasty tapas. An absolute treat to say the least!
We tasted several tapas however I can’t recall what they were! All I remember is how delicious they tasted!
What a fantastic dessert - incredibly tasty! It’s not always on their menu (as we found out on a return visit!).What a great break after all that hiking this morning but….the tour does not end here.
We continue on Calle Miramar past Hacienda San Angel, a boutique luxury hotel. (We decide to return for brunch another day).Our hike continues further along into Gringo Gulch - a fantastic place to take photos of the cobblestone streets and colourful houses with their bright red tile roofs that seem to cling to the mountainside. It definitely is a charming neighbourhood.We continue through Gringo Gulch and reach the very famous pink arched passageway known in the area as the ‘Love Bridge’. Sylvie shares the history - the most famous site in this quaint neighbourhood is Casa Kimberley. Richard Burton, while in PV filming The Night of the Iguana, bought this home for Elizabeth Tayor during their romance in the 1960’s. After marrying Taylor, Burton bought the house across the street as a gift for Elizabeth and had the ‘Love Bridge’ built to connect the two homes. Although these properties have long since been sold to new owners, it remains a draw for visitors coming to Puerto Vallarta.
The hiking continues through one of the most picturesque and quaint neighbourhoods of El Centro, Puerto Vallarta. Murals, interesting doorways and windows, flowers and blooming shrubs as far as the eye can see.
We are invited to tour one of the beautiful homes, Casa del Arroyo, and the views of this gorgeous home and the stunning vistas don’t disappoint. You want to stay here? You can - the new owner is currently getting the home ready as a vacation rental. Casa del Arroyo was built by the renowned Puerto Vallarta architect, Guillermo Wulff. It has a main villa as well as a guest villa. What a gorgeous property in the hills overlooking Zona Romantica.
For me as a photographer, this was one of the most picturesque rooms in Casa del Arroyo.The views are just amazing from this massive terrace with large palapa.
We continue on with our walk which now takes us down from Gringo Gulch to the Rio Cuale.
We pass up on the newly built pedestrian bridge and opt to hike down a narrow trail between homes on the steep embankment before we reach the edge of the Rio Cuale below. The river is low at this time of the year as we wade (just past our ankles) across. A great chance to see some of the wildlife along the river - egrets perched on the rocks jutting out from the river and iguanas high in the treetops.
We passed through the Cultural Centre and flea markets on Isla Rio Cuale. Before we pass through the markets, we stop by the sculpture honoring John Huston, director of The Night of the Iguana which was filmed in nearby Mismaloya in the 1960’s. Sculpted by artist Carlos Ramierez, it shows Huston in the director’s chair.
We leave the island and cross the foot bridge into Zona Romantica for our final stop. (No worries, the next time we crossed this bridge, the missing board was replaced.)
We walk through the streets of Colonia Emiliano Zapata ( aka Zona Romantica, South Side or Old Town). Viibrant and multifaceted, this neighbourhood is surrounded on its northern edge by the Isla Rio Cuale, the El Caloso neighbourhood on it’s east end, the Amapas and Conchas Chinas neighbourhoods to its south and Los Muertos Beach on its west side. (During our stay, we walked every street in this neighbourhood - there is so much to see and discover!)
Street views of Emiliano Zapata.
We passed by ‘The Wall’, a beautiful mosaic-tiled and glass block-long wall mural - a project directed and designed by local artist Natasha Moraga before heading over to our final stop on this hike. Its delightful splash of colour in this neighbourhood brings a smile to my face.
Our last stop on the ‘Hidden Streets of Puerto Vallarta” tour is Xocodiva Artisan Chocolates located on Basilio Badillo where we learned about the history of cacao - from harvesting the pods, extracting the beans and the process taken to make chocolate and, of course, sampling the local chocolates!
This was the perfect ending to an amazing ‘Power Walk The Hidden Streets Of Vallarta’ lead by Sylvie Scopazzo, the gracious and entertaining host. The tour runs on Thursdays and I highly recommend it. For those visiting PV, book it early in your itinerary and for those who stay for extended periods each year in PV, just do it! You won’t be disappointed!