Drone Photography of Puerto Vallarta



In years past I would hire an airplane so I could take aerial images of the Puerto Vallarta region for our print and online publications. When the market was hot I’d have to go up each year as so much would’ve changed because of real estate development. That said, I hadn’t been up since 2010 as the market in Vallarta really leveled off. But it is in full swing again, so it was time to update our aerial image bank. Even though I no longer have the print business, we did keep our MLS service and we make good use of the aerial images there.

In the past I’d usually go up in a small Cessna where the door had been taken off in order to get better quality images. I’d strap myself in well and then hang out, in order not to get the wing in the images. The pilots I flew with got good at helping me out by flying sideways and lifting the wing, giving me a better angle.

But this year I decided to invest the money I’d spend on plane time into a drone instead, and keep myself safe on the ground. It has given me a lot more flexibility to the type of images I can take, and when I can take them. And it is a lot less expensive.

I prefer panoramic images as they look great on full screen websites, and better reflect what a region looks like. To get these images there is a built-in Pano builder that comes with the software of the Mavic Pro, but I’m not happy with the quality it provides for the finished end product. So I build my own by taking 4-8 vertical images that I overlap by about 25%, and then stitch together using Adobe Photoshop Elements. I’ve tried a few programs that stitch images together but found that Elements definitely does the best job. And the price is right at just $75.00. It is easy to use and rarely do I have to make any further adjustments, except to the lighting, contrast, sharpening and color.

Unfortunately the format I use for this blog doesn’t do these images justice. If you want to see them in a larger format, with information about each development, visit mlsvallarta.com.

Downtown Puerto Vallarta

With the “Malecon” promenade in the foreground and the church and plaza behind.


Southside Vallarta

With the new pier and the popular Los Muertos beach in the foreground, and the hillsides of Amapas behind.



Conchas Chinas

This coastline reminds me of the Cote d’Azur, although with a few more high-rises…


Hotel Zone

A little to the northwest of Vallarta, and before the airport, is the Hotel Zone, which saw a number of residential high-rises go up between 2003-2010.


Marina Vallarta

One of Mexico’s first mega-developments with a golf course, marina and plenty of real estate and stay options.


Nuevo Vallarta

Vallarta’s second mega development with four golf courses, two marinas, and lots of real estate options available.


Punta Mita

A very high-end real estate development on the most northerly point of Banderas Bay.



A very popular and funky surf town to the north of Vallarta.



A favorite getaway of ours, with a nice left-break surf spot, situated on the south shore of Banderas Bay.


Obtaining a Driver’s License in Portugal


(If you’ve ever had to deal with bureaucratic red tape, you’ll love the short clip above)

We became residents of Portugal in 2017. Initially we purchased a small apartment in the Alfama area, the old town district of Lisbon, and then began the process of establishing everything else that comes with residency – bank accounts, home services, tax accountants, and deciding whether to buy a car/motorcycle or not, or both. We decided on both. And that’s where the fun began.

Having lived in Mexico for the past 30 years, my driver’s license was obviously Mexican, allowing me to drive both a car and a motorcycle (I drove both in Mexico). I had held onto and kept my Canadian one up-to-date, but it only had me down for driving cars.

In early 2016 I had begun to look into what it took to obtain a Portuguese license as a new resident, and I discovered that for EU residents they can use the license of their original country, they just have to register themselves with IMTT (Institution that issues drivers licenses). I also discovered that Portugal has a reciprocal exchange program with some countries, (such as the USA, Australia, and in my case, Canada), but not with Mexico. Meaning if I wanted a Portuguese license and I was showing them my Mexican one I’d have to take the Portuguese driving course and test, as if I were a new driver.

My first initial problem was that my Canadian license isn’t for motorcycles and I needed that. So rather than taking the course in Portugal (and in Portuguese), I decided I’d just go back to Canada and do the motorcycle test there, hoping I could fast track it.

So began the process… Continue reading

Exploring the caves of the Algarve Cliffs


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Praia Benagil

I’ve posted what the views are like when walking the cliffs of the Carvoeiro coastline a few times, but after dealing with a paddle board that badly needed patching, winds and strong swells, I finally got the opportunity to explore the coast by water.


P1000123One of the most impressive places to launch from is at Benagil where there’s plenty of parking close by and easy access to the beach. But most importantly, because this is where the largest and most impressive cave on the coast can be found close by. It’s impressive not just because of its size (you could hold great concerts here), but also because of how it is lit up, with a small opening in the roof, as well as two arches from outside, that provide a wide range of colors as light reflects off the yellow-toned walls and turquoise waters, different depending on the time of day of your visit.

Further on (going eastward), there are smaller and deeper caves that are accessible by board and fun to explore. But you certainly wouldn’t want to be doing this on a windy day, or especially when swells are happening – you could wreck your board and possibly yourself. Continue reading

Exploring Lake Como & Portofino


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Every now and then we like to do a trip on the spur of the moment, especially in the fall when the weather can be iffy. We choose a few places in different parts of Europe, and then as we get close to the time to leave, we go with the one where the weather looks best. This year the Lakes District of Northern Italy won out. So we loaded up the car with paddle boards and put our bikes on the bike rack, and hit the road.

Lakes District

The Italian Lakes District is comprised of five major lakes and a series of smaller ones, situated in the northern part of Italy, near the Swiss border and just above Milan. Of the five primary lakes, Lake Como is the most famous. And if you just have time to visit one, this is the one. The lake is shaped like an upside-down “Y”, with the towns of Como and Lecco at the bottom, and the famous towns of Bellagio, Varenna, Tremezina and Menaggio congregated where the three arms of the lake meet. A number of ferries joins these towns and shorelines together, as driving to them would adds hours to travel time. If you are to visit anywhere on Lake Como, it is in the central area where you can quickly visit four of the regions most popular and most beautiful towns.

Lake Como

We left from Nice, entered Italy, taking the coastal freeway through Savona, then up to Mondavi, and then took the SP12 (a favorite highway) to Albi. The color of the leaves were turning and the day was just beautiful with clear blue skies. We took our time, enjoying the scenery of rolling hills of yellow, orange and red, as the vineyard leaves to turn to vibrant colors.

In years past when we’ve gone to Northern Italy in the autumn, it is usually to take in the Truffle Festival in Albi. But, as we got out of Nice late, we just drove through Piemonte, enjoying the colors and pastoral landscape along the way.

Alba Countryside 7

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Cruising the Esterel Coastline


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We drove down from Nice to Frejus last week and rented a small runabout to cruise westward towards Cannes, while visiting the incredible L’Esteral coastline along the way. This massive volcanic red rock mountain-line juts out of the coastline between Frejust and Cannes, creating numerous small coves to explore by boat. L’Esteral is a national park, well protected with numerous hiking trails on land.

L’Esteral is impressive, but even more impressive was that when we arrived in Cannes we noticed a large number of sailboats situated around the Cannes waterfront. It was then that we realized that the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge was underway this weekend. For Friday, all 85 participating yachts started in Cannes, sailed in regatta formation over to the islands of St. Marguerite and St. Honorat in front of Cannes, tacked and then made their way to the mainland again at La Galere, before returning to Cannes.


The largest was Germania at 59 meters while the oldest was Bona Fide (1899), which took the gold medal in the 1900 Olympics. As it was a casual cruise for them, boats such as ours were allowed to get up close while they were under sail. Also there, although we couldn’t find there, were our friends Pat and Argie on the Manitou that they race regularly in this event.


We dropped anchor off the island of Marguerite and had lunch, while watching the parade of sailboats go by as they tacked right in front of us. We ran low on rosé, but then a small boat came by that was selling sandwiches, ice cream and such, and he had rosé for just 10 euros a bottle – delivered to our boat!

Importance of Projects in Life


It’s important we have projects that continually challenge us, keep us busy and engaged. When we are young play and school fulfill this role. As adults, we transition into work and hobbies. Education and employment are most often, however, obligatory. We don’t have to create our own projects, they (or our educators and/or employers), create them for us.

When we reach retirement, however, developing worthy projects becomes increasingly more challenging as we now have to come up with them on our own. Some find this difficult, having relied in the past on a boss or teacher to provide direction regarding what they need or should be doing. Once we are on our own, keeping regular routines that projects most often involve can prove difficult, tedious and demanding. It is too easy to take the easy path and slack off. Projects are work!

But having them, especially in our later years, is important as they keep the mind and body healthy and fit, and ensure we age well and not wane before our time.

I recently was in Canada to visit my father. Over the past few years he has frequently mentioned that he’d like to learn to sail. As we don’t see each other as often as we would like, it was difficult for me to take him sailing as we live in different countries, and sometimes different continents. Frustrated at not making progress with this goal, he decided to turn it into a project and build his own boat so he could teach himself to sail.

IMG_2787So at 83 years of age, he did just that. He obtained plans for a 15′ sailboat to be made of wood and fiberglass, and began building it on his own. When I arrived to Canada he was already 4-5 months into the project with the hull and upper deck already constructed, and had begun applying the fiberglass. And, if all goes well, sometime next spring he should be ready to launch his new boat and finally get the opportunity to sail.


My father has always been curious and project-oriented, never one to back down from a good challenge. When he retired a number of years ago he at first found filling the extra hours of the day difficult, as his prior work life had kept him extremely busy. That ended rather suddenly so he now had to find news ways to keep himself occupied. But not for long. Projects soon began to arise and his sailboat is just one in a long line of many he has undertaken and accomplished over the years.

It certainly has kept him young. At 83 he strikes most as being at least ten years younger (Makes me hope I have his genes!). But just in case I don’t, I’m making sure I too have projects to remain healthy and active as he had well into his 80s. For him the 80s are the new 60s.


Sailing the Istrian Peninsula


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In mid’ June we returned to Croatia for another sailing trip. This would be our fourth; two before out of Dubrovnik exploring the islands to the north of the wall town, and one exploring the islands south of Split. We really enjoy Croatia for sailing, one of the best areas in the Med in our opinion, for number of reasons. Great weather, warm-enough waters, friendly people, short distances between really interesting places, the price, and the variety of ports and boats and companies to choose from.

For this trip we decided to explore the most northern coastline of Croatia known as the Istrian Peninsula, with our good friends Jack and Yvonne, who we’ve done most of our Med sailing trips with.

Istrian PeninsulaWe landed in Pula from Venice, taking the catamaran ferry over to the Croatian coast. We arrived a few days early to explore Pula, and also give enough time to stock up on provisions. Our goals was breakfast and lunch on board, with more evenings out on the town, unless at anchor.

Pula has been around for a long time, as can be confirmed by the large, elliptical Roman amphitheater situated in the heart of the town. It is one of the largest the Romans ever constructed, and remains in good condition to this day. Pula was a major naval base for Habsburgs and and also when it was part of Yugoslavia. And today it remains an active port. But all that takes up most of the shoreline, so what most interesting to see is behind Pula’s waterfront. It is the largest town on peninsula, but not as interesting or charming as other towns such as Porec or Rovinj, we thought.


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Return to Venice




We spent a week in Venice in 2011 and, other than the crowds, we really enjoyed exploring its streets and waterways. It is an amazing city like no other, based primarily on water transportation for all services, and it does it all, it seems, so well. And it is so photogenic, with never-ending opportunities for photo ops.

This trip provided us just a couple of days on the way to Croatia and a day on the way back, which was just enough of a tease for us to leave saying we need to come back soon. We kept away from all major tourist landmarks such as the Rialto bridge or San Marco Plaza, at least during the day, as there so many people that’s you start feeling claustrophobic.

We are quite content to spend our time in other neighborhoods such as San Polo, Castelo, Dorsodouro and Cannareigio, which the crowds tend to avoid. There are just so many great restaurants down off-the-beaten-track narrow streets to enjoy, as well as wine bars and oceanside terraces. We especially enjoyed San Marco Plaza when the cruise ships and day-trippers had left, enjoying an Apero at Cafe Lavena while listening to the live band and people watching.

On our next trip we plan to visit some of the outer islands such as Murano, La Guidecca, and Lido.

Biking & Boarding on the Cote d’Azur


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I’ve covered many biking and boarding opps along the coast of Cote d’Azur that are most worth going to and reachable from Nice. But there’s a lot more happening up in the hills behind Nice, but to get to them I need transportation. This past weekend a friend lent me her car, and as Flo was out of town, I could use the bike rack and put the paddle board in the back of the car and head out and do some exploring.


Lake Cassien with glass-like conditions for a paddle

Day One: Lake Cassien

I’d found a lake near Cannes that looked interesting for paddling called Lake Cassien, which is a damned lake situated behind the hills of the Esterels.

There are numerous ways to access the lake, with a number of restaurants along the shoreline that, along with providing food and drinks, also rent out small boats. The most popular boats I saw were paddle boats, driven by two people peddling a paddle wheel, with a slide on the top. It seems that gas engines are not allowed on the lake, as the only engines I saw were small electric ones.

The lake is surrounded by forest with just a few homes actually on the lake and only a few on the hillsides above. One roads actually goes right over the lake by bridge, but other than that, and when you far enough away from the bridge, it is extremely quiet. I paddled north on a glass-like surface with very few other people around, just a few fisherman. On the way I had a swim in clear green fresh water that was simply wonderful – out in the middle of the lake with no one around, just me and my board and the green hills around me.

IMG_2258But when I got to the far north shore and turned around, a big black cloud had rolled in and along with it, strong winds. This made it very difficult for me to make it back to where I started, as I was 3-4 km from my launch site and the wind was right on my nose. I sat down rather than standing, to help me make headway. About halfway up the lake the wind (fortunately) subsided and I could stand back up again and make it back to the car.

Once I was packed up I crossed the bridge and head north passing through Tourney, Les Veyans and Speracedes. I made my way up to the interesting town of Cabris, which sits out on a rock formation that provides great views of the valley below, Lake Cassien, and the Med. From there I went to Gourdon and then made my way back to Nice.


Day Two

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