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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tulum to Playa Del Carmen

December 27, 2014. A drive up north to Playa Del Carmen -our next stop during this vacation. Before checking out from Casita Bonita we headed to La Zebra one more time for a nice long breakfast on Tulum beach.




Heading north, we stopped at Akumal. A very crowded beach and it was very hot. Parked the car for 50 pesos and walked to the public beach. Man! the most number of humans I have ever seen on a beach.

Akumal Beach
So many groups snorkeling, diving, on boat trips, fishing, you name it, or rather trying to. Drove in to Pueblo Akumal. 


It's a old Mexican town with some new development that resembled colonies.


Next stop -Puerto Aventuras. Another beach stopfor tourists, but underdeveloped poor town on the other side of 307. Poverty was startling.

Back in the car heading north. Missed the exit to Plyacar. Damn! Had to drive back a long way for the next 'Returno' ah! There was no road marked! Eventually with the help of the security we found our way to Iberostar, checked in, lunch and time to return in the car in down-town Playa Del Carmen before 6pm. Headed to PDC with a bad map in hand and no ability to converse in Spanish. It's the unknown that keeps the blood pumping!

Headed down 10th Avenue to Calle 28. Lol, American Car Rental couldn't have been in a better place than this! Between 10th and 5th with NO parking.

Now this is the area where human hoards let out by cruise ships. So many people all over. So touristy, expensive and commercial. One this that's worth seeing is Mayan pole flyers perform at the Parques Fundadores along 5th. I think there is a performance every hour in the evening. The music is different and nice too. Remember to tip them well. 


Mayan Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers)
Walked down 5th all the way. There were entertainment Sunset Boulevard-style from Micheal Jackson to photo-ops with baby tigers to fish pedicures. Took a taxi 90 pesos back to the hotel, shower, 


Iberostar Quetzal Lobby

nice, long relaxing dinner and zzzz....


Pueblo Tulum

December 26, 2014. Went to Tulum town after breakfast.


Walked the streets. It's a very small town, nothing much at all -that's the beauty of it!





I had the most refreshing fresh guava ice-cream!


We had lunch at El Camello. It was very good as expected, 400 pesos for 3 lunches. Carnivore second-child refused to eat seafood that day.





We wanted to spend the remaining half day in Tulum at the beach -and that's what we did till the sun sets.

Dinner and off to bed.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Tulum to Chichen Itza and Valladolid

December 25, 2014 Odometer reading at 28084 km. Start time 6:45am from Tulum. Pumped 1/2 tank gas for 360 pesos. Early morning drives are the best. No one is behind you and no one in front. Thick dense jungle all around. A rare sighting of a lone cyclist or a person walking on the street. Road signs are well displayed.

We avoided Valladolid town on the way and reached Chechen Itza at 8am. Third car to enter the parking lot. Parking was 60 pesos, entrance 240 pesos per person. This time we decided to get a personal guide because of the extent of the site and as a means to save time on locating hidden stone carvings, etc. The individual guide cost 750 pesos and very knowledgeable Fernando Qunto, a Mayan, was our guide.

The grand Chichen Itza with 5 similar inside and one underground



Ball courts -notice the walls are straight making it harder to play than in Coba

Observatory

Tic Tac Toe

On the way back 3km from Chichen Itza is another magical cenote Ik Kil. 35 pesos per person and free parking. It is within the premises of a well laid out hotel property. I would say this was the most well maintained cenote, with showers, rest-rooms, towel service, etc.



Cenote Ik Kil

Surreal!

Valladolid is REAL Mexico! Loved the little town with its central park with ornate white benches, majestic church overlooking the center, and  ladies and gentlemen dressed in their traditional clothes. Families dressed in their Christmas-best buying little trinkets for kiddos. Local artisan and snacks -all good stuff. If you venture out to the streets there is a convent, a food court and another area with a very old church. 

Entering Valladolid Town


24 hour pit roast pork tacos and Yucatan spiced blood sausage
At the Tulum junction we stopped at the other supermarket San Francis de Asisis. ATMs were not working, so we stopped at Chedraui to withdraw some cash. Back in Tulum by 3:30pm and boys head to the beach. 


Pizza for dinner at Om Tulum.

Stay-in day-before Christmas

December 24, 2014 The second child is a sick puppy after being in the ocean for too long yesterday evening. Have to postpone the day trip to Chechen Itza.

Thought we will just drive up to the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve near by and may be go up to the fishing village Punta Allen. Once we got there, we thought we will drive little further down. The road after driving for about 30 minutes, we decided to turn back as the road was terrible and our rental vehicle was not equipped for the drive. If ever to do this drive again and plan to reach Punta Allen a 4WD is a must. 

Road through Sian Ka'an Biosphere
We returned to Casita Bonita and headed to La Zebra for some late lunch and fresh juice.



3-corn empanadas
Lovely as always!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Tulum to Coba and Coba Mayan Ruins

Odometer reading at 27915km 6:55am we head out from Tulum, sun yet to peep out. Awesome, peaceful drive with once check point just after Tulum town, and not many vehicles on the road. 


After about 45 minute drive, we were the first to enter the parking lot! The secret to experiencing no lines for tickets, over-crowded sites and fantastic pictures without people all over is to wake up early and get there before they open. Parking cost 40 pesos. Entrance per person is 59 pesos. Boys got bikes for 20 pesos per bike and the bike rickshaw to take the old dogs around was 190 pesos for the long route with the guide -Miguel.


We spent 2 fine hours roaming and climbing ruins. 
Tallest at Coba and in Yucatan -Nohuch Mul stands over 130 feet
Breathtaking vistas pay-off the climb
Yes, they did play ball! Even the ball and the hoop were made of stone
As we were exiting the tour buses were hoarding people and lines were forming. Good early morning work-out needs lot of protein in breakfast and there is a restaurant within the premises by the lake with a mediocre menu. Whole lot of breakfast, coffee and tea for four 270 pesos.
Lake view from the restaurant


At the entrance to the Coba archaeological site we had 600 pesos worth of tickets for four to visit 3 subterranean cenotes off Coba.



Furthest from Coba Cenote Mutun-ha. Maya taught a thing or two to Spaniards about cleanliness

Cenote Choo-ha. Magical!




Cenote Tancach-ha -Three levels of diving here. Pristine, secluded and ethereal


Cenotes are an awesome once in a lifetime experience! Not for the weak hearted or the weary. You, fit and athletic? Yes!     

By lunch we were reaching Pueblo Tulum and all of us were craving some local simple cooking.

 El Tacoqueto -where locals eat
Few local ladies man the kitchen and produce the most sumptuous simple food
When the beach is at your doorstep, no matter where you roamed the whole day, you still have energy for the ocean.
Tulum beach at Casita Bonita
Drinks for adults to end a fantastic day!
Fish chips and drinks at Simple -a fantastic place to just wind down