Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye – Puerto Vallarta, #Mexico Part Two – Renting, Shopping, Tipping and Water

Welcome to this month’s edition of my Travel Column. Last month in my column, I shared a bit of history on beautiful Puerto Vallarta as well as some tips on dining, beaches, and things to do. For this month’s edition I’m going to share some tips based on my personal experience on notable places to visit while there, what to pack, caveats of renting a condo, and protocol on some of the Mexican customs.

What to pack?

Pack for summer temps. Keep in mind that nights can be breezy so you may want to throw in a few long-sleeved Tees and/or a light sweater.

As usual, I bring too many shoes and basically end up wearing the same two pairs when going out. During the day you will live in flip flops or sandals. When walking any distances, and when walking downtown you will want to have comfortable shoes on. Trust me! The downtown zone still has cobble stone roads. Heels aren’t going to be your friend there. I acquired a new affection for FitFlops after buying a pair to take with me before I left. I plan on getting a 2nd pair and that’s all I really need to wear out. They are ultra-comfortable and very stylish, they even have styles with bling – and that’s good enough for me, lol. Of course, you will want to have a pair of sneakers too.

I mostly live in my bathing suit and cover-up by day and a sundress or a pair of capris and a top by night. I don’t see many people wearing long pants even at night so don’t fill your suitcases with them as they will likely just be taking up space and never worn. The jeans I wear on the airplane are the only long pants I take.

Don’t forget to pack your favorite pillow. If you’re anything like me and are fussy about your pillows, you will be happy you brought yours. See if you can find a smaller travel version of your favorite pillow like I’ve found, which will take up less space in your bags. And don’t forget the essentials: sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses.


Pick up a copy of the local newspaper

Puerto Vallarta has their own local newspaper called the PV Daily Mirror. This little gem is packed with information – especially for tourists. Inside the paper you will find: a bit of history on the city, sponsored ads for recommended restaurants, events going on for the week in the city, available tours, op-eds from other tourist’s discoveries in the ‘Dear Editor’ series where you’ll find recommendations and grievances, a 2-page spread of the city map, directories of important phone numbers, what’s going on in the art scene and local market schedules, real estate for sale, and on every last page, crossword and soduku puzzles.

This little paper also offers in every issue, a list of important phone numbers to have handy such as hospitals, taxis, tourism bureau, police, fire department, consulates, and tourism protection services. I even discovered they have a WordPress blog


Like anywhere else we travel, tipping is encouraged. Mexicans don’t make nearly the wages we make in North America as their cost of living is much lower. Don’t forget to tip your taxi driver – especially when you go grocery shopping and take a cab back home where the driver will happily load and unload your groceries for you. Even in the grocery stores it’s customary to tip the ‘bagger’ of your groceries because they aren’t paid. I usually give them a 10 or 20 Pesos.

When it comes receiving your bill in a restaurant, there are two important things to remember: When you’re ready for the bill, you must ask your server for it as they consider it rude to just leave a bill in front of you, not wanting to signal it’s time for you to leave. Also, check your bill thoroughly. Some establishments have taken to automatically applying a tip on your bill. If you don’t take notice you will be double tipping.

Don’t forget to leave a little something for the maids. They work hard and make a menial salary.

Where to Shop for Groceries

Soriana’s is upper PV’s main supermarket, offering a wide array of products complete with a bakery, meat, and cheese counters. You will also find a pharmacy and some beach and pool toys and clothing at the back of their stores. Further down in town you will find another chain of Mega Super stores as their other chain of grocery stores.

Besides those mentioned, many people, including myself shop at Walmart grocery section. And recently, they’ve opened a new huge supermarket called La Comer, where you can find items of specialty that are a bit harder to find in other grocery stores.

Of course, shopping wouldn’t be complete without the famous Costco and Sam’s Club outlets. Typically, we go to Costco’s once a month to load up on staples like toilet paper, paper towels, cases of water and soda. and of course, all the other stuff we find that were never on our list. The Costco we shopped at was conveniently, a 20 – minute walk from our condo. They also have a lovely section of prepared foods for those days when one doesn’t feel like cooking or going out. Don’t forget to pick yourself up some delicious meat or fish there if you’re up to cooking. The beef in Puerto Vallarta is superb, and so is the chicken and the vast array of fish available.

Drinking Water

The drinking water has been approved and deemed safe for drinking for some time now – but that doesn’t mean you should be drinking it. Most restaurants and hotels have a water filtration system installed. But for those places that don’t, even if water is deemed safe, it’s the old pipes that contribute to contaminating the water.

When out and about and off the beaten path, always ask about the water. A good indicator is ice cubes with a hole in them signifies purified. Better yet, when in doubt, drink bottled water.

In the condo we stayed in, you can order big jugs of water from the concierge desk in the lobby. The bellman brings it right up to our unit and it costs a mere 30 Pesos – equivalent of two dollars. And I then tip him another dollar for bringing it up to our suite. We were even luckier in our friend’s condo we stayed in January, they had a filtration system in their condo with fresh water out of the kitchen sink and fridge. I’d pour a cup into a glass to brush my teeth with. One can never be too safe!

Exchanging Money

When in Puerto Vallarta, you don’t need any other currency than the Mexican Peso. Although they will accept US dollars, it’s best to save those for bargaining because you won’t get the best rate for those dollars in supermarkets or restaurants. Don’t be thinking you have to buy a ton of Pesos either before you leave home. Use the bank machines! And when I say bank machines, I mean the ATMs you’ll find inside the banks. All you need to bring is your bank card from home and approximately $100 dollars in Pesos you should purchase at home at your bank for incidentals such as: taxi fare, snacks, a drink or maybe even a meal to have on you until you get to that bank machine.

When you buy foreign currency at home, you will get a lesser rate than you’ll receive buying your Pesos in the bank machine. I stress ‘the bank’s ATM’ because using a store’s ATM or that of any in a hotel lobby, you will not get the best rate as the bank rate and the service charges can be steep.

For example: Last year I made the mistake of buying $500 worth of Pesos at my bank before I left, and I got a rate of slightly over 12 Pesos for a Canadian dollar. The bank rate I got after visiting the bank machine in PV was 15 Pesos for a dollar! For Americans, the rate has been hovering around 19 and change Pesos for your dollar. Many restaurants will display the rate you’ll receive on your American dollars. Recently there, that rate was 15 to 16 Pesos for a dollar if you paid in US dollars. That’s a huge loss of value. On the same token, you will find many money exchange booths in your daily travels, again, you will receive less value there too when exchanging your foreign dollars.

I’m armed and ready for next year’s holiday back in PV as I bought us $200 worth of Pesos to take home with us in preparation for next year.

Thinking of renting a condo in PV?

If you’re interested in renting a place for your vacation in PV, I’m sharing my list of how to go about the process, what to look for, and things to beware of:

There are plenty of online sites where one can find places for rent in PV, and many property managers who look after several properties can also be found on various websites. But if you’re not familiar with where to begin, my recommendation is to look on VRBO and Air BnB.

One thing that is almost certain is that all rental prices are expected in US dollars. Depending on which service you book through, prices will vary so it’s important to do your homework and check similar offers for similar same sized properties around same locations.

Every place for rent seems to have their own different terms of contract. Some will ask for 50% down and the balance due 2 months prior to arrival, some will only require 20% deposit and balance payable on arrival (those are the only terms I rent a place with), while some offer rebates if you must cancel and some don’t.

It’s important to do an internet check when renting to make sure you’re renting from someone reputable. It’s not difficult to type a name of someone or the name of a condo complex in a Google search bar and take it from there. TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Yahoo are also great places to check reviews from previous fellow travelers who will share their experiences. Personally, I prefer renting directly from owner as opposed to a manager, but there are exceptions. I like to call that person to gather information rather than rely solely on what’s written on the description. This also allows me to get a good feel of the person I intend to rent from.

Make sure you ask about ‘added fees’ such as: security deposit required, clean-up fees, and oddly, some funky other mysterious fees I’ve seen around. If someone is paying for an ad, they should have photos and a good description of the property and surrounding areas.

In Mexico, it seems that electricity is often a separate charge on top of the rental fee. Rarely will you find it included in the price. Depending on the honesty of the person you’re renting from you’ll end up paying anywhere from $50 US per month to exorbitant money grab rates as high as $200 a month. Always ask!

Ask about the rules of the property.

• Do they allow pets?
• Do they allow smoking?
• What are the check in and check out times?
• Ask if there’s a mini safe where you can keep your valuables and passports.
• What amenities does the property offer?
• Is there a swimming pool and lounge chairs?
• Is there a beach bar on premises?
• What kind of security does the property offer?
• What kind of amenities does the unit offer inside?
• Does it have pots and pans and dishes?
• Is there a TV or 2 and WiFi?
• Are there blinds or draperies on the windows to block out the hot morning or afternoon sun heating up the place?
• Is there a pull-out couch?
• Does the place have ceiling fans?

Ceiling fans are the best. Units with them rarely require us to use air conditioning, which of course chugs up the electricity bill. And lastly, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to ask about the views from the unit.

Most places come with standard staples such as: toaster, microwave, coffeemaker, and a debatable amount of dishes and cookware. Every unit is set up according to the owner’s tastes. Some owners actually use their units in-between renters, and those units are usually more equipped with extras. Others buy them for investment to rent out and aren’t too concerned with what’s not in there.

On my recent vacation to PV, we spent January in a gorgeous condo owned by friends of ours who live in the big city of Guadalajara. We met them last year at the pool, became friends and before the trip ended, they invited us to rent from them as they’d never previously rented out their place before. Their place was luxury all the way from the million- dollar view to first class amenities.

In February we had booked another unit in same complex because our friends had previously rented out February. We rented from the woman we’d rented from the previous year, knowing we were going to pay a little too much because we were late renting, and people are greedy. Suffice it to say, the unit left a lot to be desired – no frying pans, no safe that she told me was there, no furniture on the balcony and an extremely crappy view. Oh sure, I made her buy me frying pans and a safe, which were promptly delivered on check in day, but the lounge chairs for the balcony never got there. You must be assertive yet, polite.

Supplies: – If you’re going to be renting for a few weeks or longer, you may want to bring some things with you from home. I always pack a few extra beach towels and pillow cases, and facecloths. Yes, a common thing not to find in these condos are facecloths. I bring some of my spices from home, enough soy creamer for my coffee to last the trip, rubber gloves for doing lots of dishes (since I don’t use the dishwashers – electricity) and basically, there are never enough dishes to fill a dishwasher anyway. Something else I always bring are plastic clips to keep bags that have been opened sealed and fresh, and to make use as clothespins.

Clothespins come in handy for a multitude of things, besides the fact they’re convenient for keeping bags of chips crisp. I also use them for laundry. You can hang up wet laundry and wet bathing suits on the balcony with them, secure in the fact they won’t blow away..


Recommended little town jaunts and local markets

Two little towns I recommend visiting for a few hours exploration when visiting PV are Pitillal (pronounced P T L) and Bucerias. The beauty of these quaint little Mexican towns are they’re both within Puerto Vallarta and not far to get to.

Pitillal is literally a 10 – minute cab ride from the hotel zone. It’s a quaint town that was once its own village but has since merged into part of Puerto Vallarta. This is a hidden gem because it’s not considered a tourist town, although many have discovered it and visit it regularly for the quality handmade products in their open-air market stores, a few quaint restaurant bars where one can get cheap drinks and fish tacos, and the non-inflated tourist prices from haircuts to food.

Bucerias is about a half hour cab ride (for $25 U.S.) or an over an hour bus ride for about a dollar to get to. It’s an old fishing village with five miles of beach stretch, cobble stone roads built by hand, one stone at a time, and a charming feel. This little town is becoming more popular with tourists as the years pass offering that ‘old world’ charm of Puerto Vallarta from 40 years ago before it became a tourist destination. Bucerias has some wonderful restaurants and beach bars and local open-air markets in the center of town. The name Bucerias, is derived from the word ‘buceo’ which means to dive, derived from the initial inhabitants who were traditional oyster fishermen who dove to catch them. Now the town is known for its friendly locals. Some tourists seeking that authentic Mexican town feel of being in Mexico are opting to spend their vacations in this sleepy little town.

Other little towns of note where tourists like to take little day tours to are: Yelapa, a traditional fishing village about 25 miles from PV, which you can only get to by boat, and Sayulita, another small village, known for its good surfing, with some interesting markets and some great beach restaurants. Some people say a lot of ‘old hippies’ have moved there for it’s more ‘artsy’ vibe.

There are also other small little towns to visit when in Puerto Vallarta. The city is growing by the year with its construction growth, ex-pats who continue to migrate there, good food, cheap prices and breathtaking sunsets. What’s not to love?

Have any of you ever been to any of these small little towns in Puerto Vallarta? If so, please share your opinion here.

My thanks to Debby for this detailed report on Puerto Vallarta – and a must read if you are heading to that resort or to any of the other popular destinations in Mexico. It is always important to check out every detail when traveling abroad with up to date recommendations and also government advisories.

About D.G. Kaye

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Debby has written a book about her travel adventures – Have Bags Will Travel

About the book

D.G. Kaye reflects on some of her more memorable vacations and travel snags, she finds herself constantly struggling to keep one step ahead of the ever-changing guidelines of the airlines–with her overweight luggage in tow. Her stories alert us to some of the pitfalls of being an obsessive shopper, especially when it comes time for D.G. to bring her treasures home, and remind us of the simpler days when traveling was a breeze.

In her quest to keep from tipping the scales, D.G. strives to devise new tricks to fit everything in her suitcases on each trip. Why is she consistently a target for Canada customs on her return journeys?

D.G.’s witty tales take us from airports, to travel escapades with best friends, to reflections on how time can change the places we hold dear in our hearts. Her memories will entertain and have you reminiscing about some of your own most treasured journeys–and perhaps make you contemplate revamping your packing strategies.

One of the recent reviews for Have Bags Will Travel

This might have been one of the shortest books I’ve read in a while, with some of the chapters being only two pages long, in fact I was really disappointed when I saw how thin it was, but as they say – size isn’t everything, and it was way better than I expected.

If you’re team ‘never travel light’ you’ll find a lot of comfort in this book.

This shopaholic author chats away about her travel traumas, random experiences and funny thoughts; it’s as though she’s sitting with you in your living room having cosy natter. I found myself nodding along to much of what she shared about her travel experiences, though I think she sounds a lot worse than me when it comes to shopping and excess luggage.

Thankfully I haven’t been ruthlessly interrogated by customs or witnessed my suitcase coming round the baggage carousel broken and wide open “like an open sandwich”, what a nightmare!!

Turning into a contortionist when using plane toilets – oh yes, every time, and also when I’m trying to turn around in the plane aisle without knocking a few people out in the process!

The joys of travel!!!

‘Have Bags, Will Travel’ is a quick, easy and fun read that’s sure to put a smile on your face!

Also by D.G. Kaye

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

and Amazon UK:

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads:

Connect to Debby Gies

About me:
Twitter: (yes there’s a story)

Catch up with all the travel columns and some exotic destinations:

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Sunday Interview – Getting to Know author D.G. Kaye

You might think that as popular and D.G. Kaye (Debby Gies) is in our community that there was little more to find out about her… I beg to differ as you will find out.

First the official biography….

I’m a Canadian author, and I write my books under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. Welcome to my page and thanks for taking the time to visit!

You have landed here on my author website, which is also the place I love to blog about random occurrences and events about life. I also like to post articles about writing that I find informative and helpful for other writers, as well as share reviews on books I’ve read. Sharing is caring!

I’m a nonfiction memoir writer who writes about life, matters of the heart and women’s issues. My intent is to inspire others by sharing my stories about events I encountered, and the lessons that come along with them.

I love to laugh, and self-medicate with a daily dose of humor. When I’m not writing intimate memoirs, you’ll find me writing with humor in some of my other works and blog posts.

When I was a young child, I was very observant about my surroundings. Growing up in a tumultuous family life; otherwise known as a broken home, kept me on guard about the on-and-off-going status of my parents’ relationship. I often wrote notes, and journaled about the dysfunction that I grew up in. By age seven I was certain I was going to grow up to be a reporter.

Well life has a funny way of taking detours. Instead, I moved away from home at eighteen with a few meager belongings and a curiosity for life. I finished university and changed careers a few times always striving to work my way up to managerial positions. My drive to succeed at anything I put my mind to led me to having a very colorful and eventful life.

Ever the optimist, that is me. I’ve conquered quite a few battles in life; health and otherwise, and my refusal to accept the word ‘No’, or to use the words ‘I can’t’, keeps me on a positive path in life.

I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences.

Now time to find out which of the five questions Debby has selected to respond to….

Thanks for having me over Sal. I chose these 5 questions because often my personal habits and preferences spill into my writing. As many of my readers know, lots of my life is in my books as I share my stories to enlighten others. My stories of defeat, triumph and overcoming also include some of my shopping peeves, travel stories and overcoming a low self-esteem, and of course, the love for my father, so I’ve chosen the following questions to answer.

How would you describe your fashion sense?

My fashion sense began as a small child when I was fascinated by the way my mother dressed – stylish and trendy. I didn’t need to be too old to know that was how I wanted to dress when I got older. But being self-conscious about how I looked since childhood cautioned me as I grew into a teen that not everything that suited others necessarily suited me or my body type. I learned young how to wear things that accentuated my better parts instead of dwelling on the parts I wasn’t happy with.

Eventually, I developed a style of my own that suited me best, yet, was often original and not what everybody else was wearing. I’d have to say that my style is somewhere between eclectic, bohemian, and became bolder as I grew older and into myself. I’m pretty sure I was born with a knack for fashion and tried lots of things until I grew into myself. I’m a big fan of bold prints and colors and I love everything leopard LOL.

I often get complimented for clothes I wear by complete strangers while out and about, often adding that they wouldn’t have the guts to dress like me, but I seem to be able to pull it off because it suits me and my personality. I think many are afraid to step out of their comfort zones when trying out trendier styles and that has a lot to do with self-esteem. I know from myself when I was a teen, I liked more subdued clothing because I was happier blending into a crowd. But after I came out of my shell I became somewhat of a fashionista.

Sally here: I think we would all agree with that….

What are 5 things you’ll always find in your handbag?

I’m sorry but I must break the rules here because it doesn’t matter how small or big my purse is, the bare minimum that goes everywhere with me are: Wallet, Phone, Lipstick, Hand Sanitizer, Gum, and a tiny pill container containing a few Advil for unexpected headaches, and Zantac for unexpected indigestion. Those items are my essentials. Of course, there are various other items I carry with me, but enough said for now.

What is the strangest dream you ever had?

The strangest dream I ever had, I don’t believe was a dream. I dreamed I visited my father in heaven a few months after he passed away. I had a very special bond with my father all my life and when he died suddenly of a massive heart attack while on vacation, it took me a long time to get over losing him. I had an inner knowing with my father and inner alarm bells would go off within when I felt something was wrong him. I was very unsettled after his death until I had the dream, or perhaps I should say, the out of body experience, when I visited him in heaven and felt I was given the chance to have a proper goodbye with him. I found myself following a great white light and he approached me in the white shroud he was buried in, but his face was clear.

I wasn’t able to ‘cross the line’ that separated us, but he smiled at me and told me he loved me and that he was at peace and would always be watching over me. It was so real I hesitate to call it a dream. When I woke up, I felt as though I’d landed with a thud back into my body in my bed. From that day on, despite still grieving for the loss of my father, a new sense of peace had come over me, gradually turning into acceptance of my loss and I learned to carry the love in my heart instead of enduring a broken one.

If you could get rid of one household chore, what would it be?

Vacuuming! I will be blunt here – I hate vacuuming! It’s hard on the back, never fits in the crevices I need it to, it’s loud, and I don’t like loud. I could probably use a new one, but I keep procrastinating about buying a new one because I hate to spend money on something I hate doing. I’m on the fence about what kind of vacuum I’d buy next and seriously contemplating getting one of the robotic ones that go around the floors by themselves. I’m opened to hearing about anyone who loves their vacuum? Lol.

Sally here: I think many of us share the same view on this household chore, but I do think that a bit of music does make a difference……

What is your favorite holiday destination and why?

These days it’s Mexico! My desires change with the winds though, I’ll find somewhere I love and keep going back to that same place until I get an itch to go somewhere new. And that’s the cycle of travel with me. I love Mexico with the beautiful hot sunny days, breezy nights, great food and margaritas, and especially the fact that it’s the best bang for my Canadian bucks – our crappy dollar does very well there. I recently returned from a fabulous 2 months in Puerto Vallarta and have booked it again for next winter.

Perhaps after my next visit I may get the bug to travel somewhere else, but even if I do, I know I’d still go back there in between other holidays.

And you can discover more about Puerto Vallarta in Debby’s Travel Column this month Part One with Part Two coming in April.

“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

Books by D.G. Kaye

One of the recent reviews for P.S. I Forgive You on Goodreads

Another wonderful read from author D.G. Kaye. I admire Kaye’s courage in sharing her story of a strained, abusive and then estranged relationship with her mother. How she overcame her guilt for letting go and saving herself from further damage from her own mother was rewarding to read.

As well, the very thought of ‘leaving a parent’ goes against all that we learn and what societal norms tell us is right. Therefore, we must be horrible people to cut off a parent, right? Wrong. Sometimes there is no other option if you want to live a fulfilled and happy life. Especially when said parent is a text book narcissist. Kudos to Kaye for making the break and following through with tough decisions regarding her toxic mother.

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

and Amazon UK:

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads:

Connect to Debby Gies

About me:
Twitter: (yes there’s a story)

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed finding a little bit more about Debby Gies.. I am sure that she would love to hear from you… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Reblog – My Big Fat Mexican Vacation – Part 1 – Getting There by D.G. Kaye

In this month’s Travel Column Debby Gies (D.G. Kaye) shared the background and attractions to be found in Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, where she has been for the last two months… now she begins to share the personal details of the journey and stay in a series of posts on her own blog…

My Big Fat Mexican Vacation – Part 1 – Getting There

My recent vacation was so jam-packed full of fun and activities that I was flummoxed with where to begin, so I decided, why not begin from the beginning. As many of you know, I enjoy writing about my travel adventures, and ‘getting there’ always entails some of my observations and rants. So for this first post on my recent trip I’ll begin with the flight to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

What could be possibly go wrong?

I was ready. Every detail had been looked after. I managed to get ourselves bumped up to first class for a not bad fee. I’d previously booked ‘preference’ seats in economy costing $55 per seat, each way, allowing for bigger seats and more leg room. On top of that additional fee, it was going to cost another $80 per person for 2 checked bags each, and still, no food was free with those seats. I made a point to mark off ‘wheelchair’ request on my husband’s booking because I learned from previous trips that not only did that speed things along for us for the very long walks to security checkpoint and worse – to the gate – a trek my husband can no longer endure, but being in a wheelchair at the airport definitely has its perks. An airline assistant wheels my hub through to security with no lines to await in because we’re taken through to wheelchair access line, and me being his companion gets to share in that perk. The assistant proceeds to wheel him through to the gate, and of course, we’re granted priority boarding before the masses load on and chaos ensues with everyone trying to fit their often over-sized carryons in the upper cabin bins.

When we were offered to upgrade, I was sent an email from Air Canada offering the upgrade if I placed a bid on a sliding scale of how much more I’d be willing to pay per ticket for the opportunity. I figured out the cost and took a chance with my bid after figuring that the bags and seat I’d already purchased per person were already adding up to $135 per person and settled on offering $300 more each toward the bump up. If they accepted it (on what I felt was a fairly empty first class section, after checking seating availability first), I was really paying about $170 each for the upgrade and the previous seats I booked and paid for would be reimbursed to me, plus we’d be given meals. I had nothing to lose.

Please head over to Debby’s blog to read the rest of this post… and learn from her experiences…..

About D.G. Kaye

“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Books by D.G. Kaye

One of the recent reviews for P.S. I Forgive You on Goodreads

Another wonderful read from author D.G. Kaye. I admire Kaye’s courage in sharing her story of a strained, abusive and then estranged relationship with her mother. How she overcame her guilt for letting go and saving herself from further damage from her own mother was rewarding to read.

As well, the very thought of ‘leaving a parent’ goes against all that we learn and what societal norms tell us is right. Therefore, we must be horrible people to cut off a parent, right? Wrong. Sometimes there is no other option if you want to live a fulfilled and happy life. Especially when said parent is a text book narcissist. Kudos to Kaye for making the break and following through with tough decisions regarding her toxic mother.

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

and Amazon UK:

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads:

Connect to Debby Gies

About me:
Twitter: (yes there’s a story)

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The #Travel Column with D.G. Kaye – Puerto Vallarta, #Mexico Part One.

Welcome to this month’s edition of my Travel Column. I thought it only fitting this month to zero in on one of my favorite winter spots for vacation – Puerto Vallarta, since I’ve just returned from there once again from a blissful two months away from my Canadian winter.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Part One.


Puerto Vallarta is situated on the Pacific Ocean’s Bahia de Banderas, in the state of Jalisco – a Mexican resort city spanning just over 502 square miles. It was named after Ignacio Vallarta, a former governor of the state of Jalisco. (1872–1876). His full name was José Luis Miguel Ignacio Vallarta Ogazón.

Puerto Vallarta was once a thriving Mexican village back in 1859 before it became the popular resort town that it is today. During the 18th century the city grew from a small fishing village to a small beach landing port for easy access to the Sierra towns. By the 19th century, the town began accumulating regular vacationers from nearby inland Sierra towns. It became a municipality in 1918, and that is when it was named Puerto Vallarta from its former name – Las Penas. Until 1942 the city could only be accessed by sea, air and by mule trails to the Sierra towns.

The new road finally created have vehicular access to the newly becoming resort town it is today. And the first vacation advertising from Modern Mexico Magazine in New York gave Puerto Vallarta its start at becoming a destination resort. By the 1950s Puerto Vallarta began attracting American writers and artists and ex-pats wanting to escape the politics of the Eisenhower/McCarthy era.

In the 60s and 70s, Puerto Vallarta became a popular vacation destination, and 6 influential factors helped put PV on the map:

  • Government intervened with century-old property disputes by parceling out land as communal farms stifling development for much of the 20th century, eventually transitioning into private ownership by the early 70s to generate sales revenue to help develop infrastructure.
  • In 1964, American director, John Houston began filming the movie – The Night of the Iguana, in a small town south of Puerto Vallarta, featuring Richard Burton. At the time, the US media had Burton and Taylor in the spotlight for their extra-marital affair and the publicity that ensued gave Puerto Vallarta recognition.
  • The Mexican government heavily invested in making transportation more accessible, building better roads, and an airport, (Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International airport, named after the president in power 1964-1970), and the El Salado Wharf (the current cruise terminal), making Puerto Vallarta become the first harbor town in the state of Jalisco. All these improvements made PV become a booming resort town.
  • In 1968, Puerto Vallarta became a city from a municipality. The city began to grow with ex-patriates from Canada, US and Europe.
  • In 1970, President Ordaz met with US president, Richard Nixon for treaty negotiations. The media exposure given to this event with the scenic views in the background helped to attract more visitors.
  • The hotel development began a booming industry for Puerto Vallarta in the early 70s with the building of grand luxury hotels and resorts. The early 80s also brought on a downtown of the Mexican economy, devaluing the Peso (international currency), which of course helped to attract more tourists to get a good bang for their buck for an attractive ‘bargain’ destination. This boom of course, inspired other destination spots in Mexico to be built such as Cancun and Ixtapa, which became new tourist getaway spots in the early 90s.


The city offers a gorgeous climate, beautiful beaches, and a rich cultural history. With a typical tropical climate of wet and dry, the average daytime temperatures are 86 degrees, with lows at night as low as 65 – 70 degrees. The rainy season runs typically from June through October with August being the rainiest month of all. And PV is not traditionally a hurricane hotspot. Although, like much of the North American west coast, PV is vulnerable to earthquakes. Typically, there are 300 sunny days a year. And spectacular sunsets!

Tourism Trends

Tourism makes up over 50% of Puerto Vallarta’s economy. It’s one of the most popular destination vacation spots on the west coast of Mexico, especially when the drug related violence escalated in the once popular Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta seemed to take over the once heavily tourist populated city. PV has also become a popular retirement place for many Canadians and Americans, which brought another boom of condo development to satisfy the demand. The ever-increasing growth of PV has made Nuevo Vallarta in the neighboring state of Nayarit, just north of PV, become the spillover place for resort vacations. Nuevo Vallarta is a twenty-minute cab ride just north of Puerto Vallarta’s international airport.

Puerto Vallarta has become one of the most popular destination resorts for the LGBT community, supporting Gay Pride, which is celebrated annually since 2013, coinciding with the US Memorial Day. There is a huge gay community in the downtown (romantic zone) district off the Malecon (Boardwalk).


Puerto Vallarta services three main bus services which will take you almost anywhere in the city, and for real cheap, 10 Pesos, approximately 50 cents U.S.! Fleets of taxis are also available everywhere you turn, and the taxis are rate controlled by a union. Meters aren’t used as rates are set by zones. Taxis are also cheap. Everywhere I’ve travelled within Puerto Vallarta hotel zone had a standard taxi fee of 50 Pesos – the equivalent of approximately $3.50 Canadian, less in American dollars. In 2017, Uber came to Puerto Vallarta, which has caused some displeasure with the taxi industry, apparently costing less than a taxi. Personally, I’d stick with the taxis as the fares are already quite low and safer. To save 50 cents by using Uber sounds almost ridiculous when it comes to peace of mind, but I met a few people who did use Uber and some of them said their drivers got lost and couldn’t find specific places.

The cruise ship docks are also a busy place with lots of cruise ships docking there daily during tourist season, harboring 3 berths to take in 3 ships on any given day and currently expanding capacity. I was lucky enough to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the ships coming and going from our balcony.


There is a plethora of restaurants to choose from all offering different cuisines besides the typical Mexican restaurants. You will find many choices similar to American dining with cuisines offered from Italian, Chinese, Japanese, South American foods and more! Popular dishes fresh from the ocean are Mahi Mahi, shrimps, and Red Snapper, as well as many other delicious seafoods, real cheap!

Here is a link to over 250 fabulous places to eat in Puerto Vallarta. If any of you are thinking of visiting, feel free to ask me for my personal recommendations.

Popular Sights to Visit

There are two big markets opened twice a week – Thursdays at the Marina Vallarta, and Saturday mornings downtown at the lower end of the Malecon, where you can find anything from artisanal gifts, souvenirs, and home baked foods. There are also several mini flea markets that run daily in different parts of the town which I’ll talk more about in the next edition.

Plaza de Armas is located into old town down by the boardwalk where you can often hear live music being played. The Malecon is the boardwalk in downtown Puerto Vallarta where there are numerous restaurants and stores and a known place for artists to display their wares nightly. An archaeological museum houses a collection of local and regional Hispanic artifacts. An abundance of nightclubs are opened nightly for those who crave the nighttime action.

Discover the art scene, galleries and boutiques, sculptures, at the Artwalk, which runs from 6-10pm every Wednesday evening till the end of May annually. There are also classes offered in various parts on everything from Spanish classes, to health care groups, to writing cafes, and more. The downtown Romantic Zone has Act II where different plays are performed weekly just like in North America, but with their own actors. You can get tickets at the box office while you’re downtown or book online with most tickets running approximately $20 per person. Tours are offered everywhere from sidewalk kiosks to booths located in shopping areas, and on the beaches where commissioned sales people will offer you deals – just don’t forget to bargain. Often the first price offered is too much because they expect to be bargained with.

Puerto Vallarta is touted as one of the safest cities in Mexico to visit so you don’t have to be worried walking around town. I have heard from sources that because Puerto Vallarta is one of the few places on the western coast with heavy tourism that some of the properties are owned by the famed ‘El Chappo’ and it is ordered to keep the city free of crime to maintain tourism. Hey, you can’t get any safer than that?

Visit these: links for more tourist information.

Around Puerto Vallarta

Visit Puerto Vallarta


There are numerous beaches in and around Puerto Vallarta, with various names, but Banderas Beach and Los Muertos Beach are popular tourist beaches. Because the tourist part of the city is built along the oceanside of the city, you can literally walk from the northern part of Puerto Vallarta to the downtown Malecon and further along the beaches, although that would be a very long walk and some mighty fine exercise as you encounter some hillier and some rocky areas along the way. You will also find just about every water sport activity offered along the beach as well by the resorts. There are many different water activity tours such as swimming with the dolphins, whale watching, sunset cruises, fishing cruises, day trips to little towns, parachuting, skydiving, and more! (Sal add love beach photo)

Best Beach Hotels: Link
List of Beaches: Link


Puerto Vallarta is a great place to shop and not have to spend a lot of money. Souvenirs of interest you will find in PV are: silver jewelry, local pottery, blown glass objects, Tequila, beach wear, artwork from local artisans, just to name a few. You won’t even need to walk any further than your beach chair to purchase items sold locally right on the beach as many natives walk the beaches selling their wares. Just don’t forget to bargain, it’s part of the shopping scene particularly at markets and when buying on the beach. It’s a fact that the sellers know they are going to get haggled so traditionally, they will start at a higher asking price so never pay the first price given – also, be reasonable, they still have to make a living. Typically, on the beach if you are purchasing a souvenir, you can bargain them down to half of what they start at.

Visit these links for more about shopping in Puerto Vallarta:


Best buying tips

Do stay tuned for Part 2 of this series as I will be delving more into my experiences, recommendations, best bang for your currency exchange bucks, what to look for when seeking a rental, and terms to beware of, and more!

About D.G. Kaye

“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Books by D.G. Kaye

One of the recent reviews for P.S. I Forgive You on Goodreads

Another wonderful read from author D.G. Kaye. I admire Kaye’s courage in sharing her story of a strained, abusive and then estranged relationship with her mother. How she overcame her guilt for letting go and saving herself from further damage from her own mother was rewarding to read.

As well, the very thought of ‘leaving a parent’ goes against all that we learn and what societal norms tell us is right. Therefore, we must be horrible people to cut off a parent, right? Wrong. Sometimes there is no other option if you want to live a fulfilled and happy life. Especially when said parent is a text book narcissist. Kudos to Kaye for making the break and following through with tough decisions regarding her toxic mother.

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

and Amazon UK:

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads:

Connect to Debby Gies

About me:
Twitter: (yes there’s a story)

My thanks to Debby for sharing some of here holiday highlights and the background to this popular Mexican holiday resort..As always she loves to hear from you with comments and questions.

Catch up with all the travel columns and some exotic destinations:

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Christmas – The Fifth Day of Christmas with guests D.G. Kaye, Lizzie Chantree and Joy Lennick

Welcome to the fifth day of Christmas, and today my guests are D.G. Kaye (Debby Gies), Lizzie Chantree and Joy Lennick.  We will find out more about their most favourite Christmas memories later.

As I continue to reflect on Christmas Past… I came across some pictures of Saas Fee in Austria the Christmas of 1995, here is a mountain shot that I found on Pixabay which is far better than the ones I took with my old camera. It was to be a memorable festive break for more than one reason… We stayed in a lovely hotel which was family run and the guests were mainly German speaking. There was one other English couple and the management kindly put our two tables close together in the dining-room. We actually got on with them very well and over the course of the 10 days we went on some excursions as a foursome. The other thing that the management did to make our stay more enjoyable was to translate their morning newsletter and guide to the day’s menu from German into English.

These were the days before Google Translate was offering such a useful service and I know that the two pager must have taken considerable time to convert especially as there were only four of us who could not speak German. That is true customer service. However, it unfortunately did lead to some hilarity at the breakfast table despite our best efforts to maintain a stiff British upper lip. There were a number of ‘moments’ including our confusion over the ‘Cancer Butter’ to be served with the salmon at dinner (Crab butter) and the title of the Version Original film to be shown at the local cinema ‘The Hard with a Vengeance’ (Die Hard with a Vengeance).

David was hitting the ski slopes every day whilst I explored the trails around Saas Fee by foot. However, between Christmas and New Year the four of us decided to try out the very long toboggan run from the top of the tree line down into the town. Luckily there was a ski lift up to the top where we collected our individual sleds. I was not very proficient to begin with and the other three were soon on their way as I trailed tentatively behind. The route took two hours normally and by the time I got to the last down hill stretch David and our two companions were gathered enjoying a mulled wine and waiting for my arrival. That last slope was both steep and lengthy and I perched over the lip prepared for a fast ride.

At that moment the three of them turned to face the slope and began waving.. as did most of the other spectators. I was quite chuffed by the attention as they all waved both arms over their heads and shouted encouragement. Taking a deep breath I launched myself off and gathered momentum very quickly…. too quickly and barely keeping the sled under control I hurtled downwards towards the waiting crowd. The end of the run ended in a gradual slope upwards to slow the progress of over eager tobogganers.

It was obvious to those watching that I was not going to be stopping anytime soon and the crowd parted as I rushed through them and I heard what they had been shouting to me on the way down as they waved their arms in the air “Ice, Ice, walk down on the edge – don’t do it. I took off from that ramp like Santa and his sleigh and thankfully landed in a snow drift positioned as a precautionary measure…. As I rose to my feet unharmed I turned to find anxious faces peering over the edge. I was laughing with adrenaline overload and with that everybody began clapping and slapping each other on the back… It was obviously the best entertainment in town….

On a lighter note here is some music to get your feet tapping……Mariah Carey with All I Want for Christmas

Time for my first guest and it is D.G. Kaye.. Debby Gies who is not just a wonderful friend and supporter of the blog but also a much valued contributor. In particular the monthly Travel Column which has taken us to warm and exotic locations in the Caribbean and The Lesser Antilles…on cruise ships with all the know-how necessary to get the best value and enjoyment from our holiday. Recently Debby has been keeping an eye open for funnies to enhance the Laughter lines including this recent post

Debby shares her very poignant best Christmas Gift ever.. the first year that she was married.

My best Christmas gift was marrying my husband in October 1999. One week after our marriage I became almost fatally ill and spent the first few months of marriage in and out of hospital. The steroids I was put on made me gain a bunch of weight and my face wasn’t spared with the often talked about ‘moonface’ many experience on that drug. I was sick, depressed and couldn’t stand looking in a mirror. My husband caught me secretly crying in the bathroom and asked me what was the matter. I tried to explain how I felt through my fit of tears and here was his response: “I love you to the moon and back. You will always be beautiful to me and that’s all that counts.” If I hadn’t already known I married a prince, I knew in that moment.

My Christmas gift to Debby is a reminder of something I know she is very much looking forward to, especially as Toronto is cold and wet at the moment… her month’s trip to Puerto Vallarta in the New Year… Not long now Debby.

Courtesy of DD Food & Travel

Read the reviews and buy D.G. Kaye’s books:
Connect to Debby on her blog:

A recent review for Words We Carry Very insightful read. on September 16, 2018

Once in a while you come across a book that really speaks to you. Reading ‘Words We Carry’ by D. G. Kaye was like having friends over for coffee and revealing our innermost secrets or speaking to your mentor about life and how to make it better. The author, who has natural psychology opened my eyes and made me ponder why I react the way I do to certain things or certain people. I enjoyed author, D.G. Kaye’s writing style––so friendly and warm. This book is well written and is easily one that can change someone’s life. I recommend this book to anyone who ever felt insecure, self-conscious or inadequate. An easy 5 star read.

Traditionally on Day five of the Twelve Days of Christmas (29th December), the life and death of St Thomas Becket was remembered. He was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century and was murdered after questioning the ethics of the then King Henry II and his interference with the Church. Unusually St. Thomas Becket is saint and martyr revered by both the Catholic and the Anglican faiths.

Five Gold rings would be welcomed by everyone but over the years there have been various theories on the interpretation of this particular gift. One theory is that all the verses refer to birds in one way or another that were eaten in the 18th century – Partridge, Turtle Doves French Hens, Colley Birds, and the five rings referring to gold ringed pheasants, Geese, swans but then we hit the maids so some work needed on this hypothesis! I would say that it was more about how the lyrics fitted the song and in all the versions that were illustrated it was clearly in the form of actual gold rings.

Time to meet my second guest today and that is award-winning inventor and author, Lizzie Chantree, who started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now runs networking hours on social media, where creative businesses, writers, photographers and designers can offer advice and support to each other. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex.

Lizzie shares her most treasured Christmas gift ever…

On Christmas day, the scent of pine needles and mulled wine are usually enough to bring a smile to my face, but I’ll always remember my children dipping their heads under the tree and giggling in excitement, at giving me what has turned out to be my favourite gift. As I opened the wrapping paper their faces peeped up at me through tissue paper and I turned page after page of photographs of family memories that they had spent hours and hours collecting, and presenting in a photo album, for me. It’s a gift that I will always cherish.

As I would Lizzie… lovely…..

As Lizzie is an award winning inventor, my Christmas gift to her is to virtually try out some of the lastest inventions for work and leisure.. my personal favourite the Orange Screw….courtesy of Quantum Tech HD

You can buy Lizzie Chantree’s books:
And connect to her on her website:

One of the recent reviews for If You Love Me I’m Yours

The author obviously has a love for, and knowledge of art in all its forms …and human nature as well. Clever the way she shows the influence of parents on their offspring, who either try to live up to expectations or deny their true selves to fit in. I felt for repressed artistic Maud, who was impelled to express her talent anonymously and leave her works of art to be picked up by anyone who wanted to give them a home. ( I also loved the brilliant descriptions of her amazing bedroom and her hidden ‘shed’. ) And then poor Dot, who only truly found her talent when she found Maud. The interweaving plot carries you along, willing and hoping for a happy ending for all these engaging characters. Another different story from Lizzie Chantree. It’s as funny and compulsive as her Ninja School Mum. More please.

Since we were in Austria for Christmas that year, it is appropriate that we look at some of their Christmas traditions. According to  Why Christmas Austria shares many Christmas traditions with its neighbor Germany, but also has many special Christmas customs of its own. This includes an Advent Wreath made from evergree twigs, with ribbons and four candles for each of the four Sundays in Advent.. when a candle is lit you might hear carols being sung.

Austria and Germany are well known for their Christmas markets with visitors from all over Europe arriving to enjoy the decorations, food and Glühwein (sweet, warm mulled wine).

There will be a large Christmas Tree in the town squares and at home most trees are decorated in gold and silver with straw stars. As in some other European countries December 6th is also celebrated in some homes for Saint Nicholas and children might be lucky to get an extra gift. Otherwise they will have to wait until 4pm on Christmas Eve for the festivities to begin.

The main Christmas Eve meal is Fried Carp for those who are Catholic and observe the day as a Fast, and for others it might be roast goose or turkey which is becoming more popular. Dessert might be the famous Austrian Sachertorte.

As Stille Nacht (Silent Night) was written in Austria in 1818.. here is a wonderful version by the Dresden Choir. Courtesy of Brent Postlethwaite

One of the accompaniments for our traditional Christmas dinner is bread sauce and here is the recipe taken from last week’s full Christmas menu by Carol Taylor

Bread Sauce

Freeze the breadcrumbs ready to use (I always) keep a bag of frozen breadcrumbs in the freezer. The sauce can be made the day before and reheated on the day… I have been surprised living here that many people have not heard of bread sauce my mum always made it at Christmas we couldn’t have turkey without bread sauce…


About half loaf of good quality stale white bread either broken into smallish pieces or can blitz into breadcrumbs if you like a smoother sauce.
• I brown Onion peeled and studded with cloves.
• 2 bay leaves.
• Salt & Pepper.
• About half pint milk.

Let’s Cook!

  1. Pour milk into a saucepan and add studded onion. Slowly bring to boil and turn down and let gently simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. When cool remove Onion and bay leaves. This can be reheated to serve or made the day before and kept covered in the fridge. It is quite a thick consistency so if too thin add some more bread if too thick some more milk.

And for my final guest today, the lovely poet and author Joy Lennick who is enjoying retirement in sunny Spain, but she is not spending all day at the beach as she supports her fellow authors and continues to publish books and blog posts.

Here is Joy in her own words….

Having worn several hats in my life: wife, mum, secretary, shop-keeper, hotelier; my favourite is the multi-coloured author’s creation. I am an eclectic writer: diary, articles, poetry, short stories and five books. Two books were factual, the third as biographer: HURRICANE HALSEY (a true sea adventure), fourth my Memoir MY GENTLE WAR and my fiction novel is THE CATALYST. Plenty more simmering…including a humour filled book called The Moon is Wearing a Tutu…

And here is Joy’s most precious Christmas gift ever….

Was it the ‘Coronation coach’ filled with iced gems in 1938? Or that ‘war-Christmas’ when we toboganned down an iced hill in Wales……Or appearing in “Mother Goose” at the Theatre Royal? And, one year, I had a new brother like an animated doll. A yuletide party in 1957, singing carols in a beautiful house in Toronto, Canada was special too. But the winner was the Christmas gift of 1959. Having returned to the UK, my doctor said those two magical words:: ‘You’re pregnant!’. Having dreamed of this for six years, it was the best Christmas present EVER.

It is tough to follow that precious a Christmas gift, and it took me some time to find the perfect Christmas present for Joy..

I worked in a hotel in the Snowdonia National Park, at Bontddu on the Mawddach  Estuary and love it.  There is now a coastal path along the entire length of the Welsh coastline and I thought Joy might like a virtual tour.

Discover Joy’s books read the reviews and buy:
Connect to Joy via her blog:

One of the reviews for My Gentle War

I found this book totally enchanting, not just for the way it was written (which was completely original being unfettered by any rules on writing and therefore delivered with great feeling). It evoked some long lost memories from my childhood, of family forgotten or misplaced by faulty memory. I thought of my grandmother clasping a homemade loaf of bread under her arm, giving it a good buttering, then with a large bread knife, sawing it off and setting a ‘doorstep’ sized slice free for jam or honey to follow. I wasn’t born at the time of the war, which doesn’t spoil any of this account and although I know it from history books and oft heard tales, was not a good time to live through, yet I’m left thinking there was another side to these times, told here with great fondness. Sometimes I think we’ve lost a great deal for all our modern ways. This is a lovely book and worth a read. Pat McDonald British Crime Author.

A Snowball is a cocktail made with advocaat and lemonade in equal quantities with a dash of lime juice to cut some of the sweetness.

Advocaat comes from Holland and is made from eggs, sugar and brandy. It looks and tastes like a very luxurious custard and is similar to eggnog but whereas you can enjoy a non-alcoholic eggnog a snowball is not for all the family…..There are a number of variations using egg yolks, aromatic spirits, honey, brandy and sometimes cream. The best commercial brands on the market are Bols and DeKuyper.

I hope you have enjoyed meeting my guests, the music, food and of course a snowball or two.. thanks for dropping in and please let us know what your most favourite Christmas Gift of all time is. thanks Sally