Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mexico: Day 3 - Coba

You know you're in vacation mode when you can go to bed early and still manage to sleep in the next day! Breakfast was provided at the hotel, and every day the owners served a different pastry. This first morning we enjoyed croissants along with our fresh fruit and coffee. We climbed into the car and drove the 45 km to nearby Coba for our first set of Mayan ruins. The drive was pretty easy, and I finally figured out my strategy: follow a local! Most of them know where the topes are and when to slow down for them.

More bright sunshine (and sunscreen!) were waiting for us in Coba as we had a great day for exploring the settlement. Because the buildings are all spread out, you can rent bicycles to get to the different groups of structures. We grabbed a couple and set off into the jungle! Most of Coba is still unexcavated, which is amazing to think about. The highlight for me was a pyramid that tourists are still allowed to climb (unlike Chichen Itza), and the view above the treeline at the top is certainly worth the climb!

Afterwards, we headed back to Tulum for lunch. A few times on the trip, I think we were trying to eat while most people were taking a siesta, so our lunch options were sometimes limited. We relaxed the afternoon away at the hotel before heading down to the beach for dinner. We had heard about a restaurant there that was run by two Italian chefs, and the food did not disappoint! Jon had a nice homemade pasta dish, and I enjoyed some red snapper. Drowsy and well-fed, we went back to our hotel for the night.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mexico: Day 2 - Cancun to Tulum

Today we took it easy. Our ultimate goal was to drive down to Tulum, but since this was our only real day in Cancun, we headed for the beach! Cancun has a narrow strip of land jutting out towards the Caribbean Sea, and every inch of it is covered with hotels, shops and restaurants. Not being beach people, we wouldn't have chosen to spend our vacation out there, but it was nice to see. It feels a lot like the Vegas strip in this Hotel Zone with all the giant hotels in one place.

We parked the car, put on some sunblock, and ventured over to one of the public beach accesses. It was very warm (probably in the high 80s), so it felt nice to stroll along the beach for a while, checking out the light blue water.

Our drive to Tulum was about 130 km, and the road down the coast was in pretty good condition. We encountered many speed bumps (topes) along the way, as we'd read about before we left. I guess I just wasn't expecting there to be so many of them! After a while, I had decided to count all the ones we went over and then surprise Jon with the number when we returned the rental car. I realized after I got to about 52 on day 2 that I'd rather not think about how many there were and stopped counting :)

We got to Tulum in the afternoon and had lunch at a taco stand along the main drag in town. As we were examining the place, a couple of American vouched for the good food. They were from Anchorage and were spending a week on the beach trying to soak up as much sun as possible. Not a bad idea!

The next stop was our hotel for the next three nights: Don Diego de la Selva. It was just outside of town, so it would be a bit quieter and a nice place to get into the vacation mindset. It is run by people from France, so I was able to speak to the receptionist in French, as I know more of that than I do of Spanish. The room was very nice, and we even had our own hammock out on the porch.

That evening, we walked into town for margaritas at one of the local restaurants. They were very good but probably a little stronger than we had anticipated! We stumbled back to the hotel a short while later and had a great meal at the restaurant there. We read a bit after dinner and settled in for our few days in Tulum.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mexico: Day 1 - Cancun

Another November: another international adventure! After a great Thanksgiving in Seattle with friends, Jon and I were off again to explore a new place. We woke up on Friday morning to a call from an actual person at American telling us that our first flight from SEA to DFW was delayed, which would mean a missed connection in Dallas. Luckily, American was able to put us on an Alaska Air flight to DFW that would allow us to make our second flight to Cancun. The adventure was on!

7 hours later our plane landed in Cancun. We could feel the warm weather as soon as we stepped off the plane; it was a nice change from the winter we had left behind back in Seattle. We breezed through customs and made our way to pick up our rental car. The process was relatively painless, except for the long sales pitch we got while waiting for our car to be cleaned. Soon, though, we had the keys to our red Dodge Attitude and were off to the city.

We made a few wrong turns on our way into Cancun, but Jon's excellent navigation got us close to our hotel pretty easily. Our guide book had the incorrect location for the hotel, so we spent a little while driving around the neighborhood before finding the place and checking in. After a quick walk to a nice taco dinner, it was time for bed!