A Travellerspoint blog

Day 15-17: Playa del Carmen & Isla Cozumel

Our last days at the beach

sunny 30 °C
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So obviously the last part of the holiday went by so quickly that I totally forgot to write my blog. Lucky that I am mainly writing this blog for myself. I will be adding pictures later. So here we go...

We have come to the last few days of our holiday. I don't think we realised how lucky we are before it is almost over. Our days in Playa del Carmen and Isla Cozumel are our last days of beach life before we go on to explore some Maya ruins. Playa del Carmen was by far one of the most touristy places we have visited so far. This means that there are shops everywhere and fancy restaurants. Even our hostel has higher standards than usual. We stayed at the Ecoboutique hostel. Minus the kitchen facilities, I really loved it! Really good standards for a hostel and perfectly adapted for travellers so that each bed had a socket and a place in the wall to put your phone while it is charging. Playa del Carmen consist mainly of one big pedestrian street where most of the shops and restaurants are located, and there is of course a long lovely beach. Jenna and I spent our first day in Playa del Carmen exploring the city, looking in the shops and just relaxing. For our second day Jenna went to a park called xcaret, which was too touristy and expensive for me, so I decided to spend to spend a day at the beach working on my tan.

The beach was nice as there weren't any sellers walking by asking if you wanted a massage, fruit or sunglasses. You didn't have to pay for sunbeds either, but you had to pay for them indirectly by spending a certain amount at the tavern that owned your sunbed. This basically covered lunch and some drinks, which worked perfectly for me. The only drawback of the beach was the fact that the water was quite dirty. Not by rubbish, but because the waves brought in algaes. Might just be that I was unlucky on the one day I went.

On our last day in the Playa del Carmen area we went on a one day trip to Isla Cozumel. We decided to sleep in a little, so we went on the 11 boat. We were promised a snorkelling tour when we arrived at 12. The seller in Playa del Carmen had promised specifically that there would be a tour at 12. When we got there however, there was obviously no tour at 12. Rather at 13:30. This made me quite irritated that this meant we wouldn't have much time before and after the snorkelling as I needed to be back in Playa del Carmen by 19 for a nail appointment. But it was said that snorkelling or diving was the thing to do in Isla Cozumel, so we had no choice but to wait. So, we went and tried to find a cheap place to eat, which was almost impossible. There are cheap places to eat for tourist, but not when you compare to where the mexicans will go.

The snorkelling was not the best snorkelling experience I have had. They were quite strict about time, so we didn't have much time to explore in each area. In addition, the guide wanted as all to stick together, which means you see more of people´s bathing suits than fish. As I have experience diving and swimming, I asked if I could keep a distance, which I was luckily allowed to do. I also noticed how the guide gave food to the fishes to attract them. I guess it is ok, but it just makes the whole snorkelling seems very touristy and made up. I like the experience of just being calm in the sea and see the life as it is.

All in all, the Playa del Carmen experience had some good elements to it and some bad. Now beach life if officially over, and we are off to explore ruins!

Posted by Oiesof 00:40 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Day 13-14 Cancún and Isla Mujeres

Shopping and beach lovers paradise

sunny 30 °C
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So there is no secret that travelling can be tiring. Hence, sometimes during a long trip you just want a day to sleep in and be lazy. This is what Jenna and I did our first day in Cancún. We slept almost until noon, sorted out accommodation for the end of our trip, and then we went to a big outlet mall to do shopping. Since we are both on a budget and do not have much space in our luggage, we did not go crazy on the shopping, but we got a few things. In the evening we did as the locals and went to the cinema to see "me before you/yo antes de ti". I loved the movie, and both Jenna and I were very happy to have a non-touristy day. No beach, no tours, no exploring. Just chill.

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The day after, however, it was time to play tourist again. We went on a day trip to Isla Mujeres. Firstly, we were shocked by the boat prices. We probably got ripped off. When we got over the shock however, we got more of an opportunity to explore the island. To get around the island you either have to rent a bike, a golf car or take a taxi. So we went for the taxi option. First we went to see the turtle farm. This is a place where sea turtles are bread, and so to be set free when they are old enough. Here you could see the turtles from eggs, to just coming out of the egg, to full grown adults. They were super sweet!

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After that we went to a beach which was called Playa Tiburon. The water was a bit dirty, so we werent that impressed. We decided then to go to Playa Norte, which, according to Lonely Planet is the nicest beach on Isla Mujeres. I didnt see any other beaches, but Playa Norte was definitely beautiful! We found a place in the shade and literately spent the rest of the day in the crystal clear water. People had parked their boats nearby, so there was lots of party music playing and people dancing and generally having a good time. Hence, the beach wasnt as peaceful as the one in Isla Holbox, but it still had a very good vacation vibe.

in the evening Jenna got her nails done, and we were ready for the next days destination - Playa del Carmen.

PS: the pictures of this blog bears the witness of that Jenna takes lots of photos on the trip, so I get really lazy! Will do better.

Posted by Oiesof 20:51 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Day 11-12: Isla Holbox

Swimming with the whale shark

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When we finally arrived in Mexico, I left Jenna to go to Isla Holbox for a day. My one and only purpose for this place was to snorkel with the whale shark, so I must admit I came no expectations to the place. However, I must admit I really loved the place! The island consisted of a small city or rather village centre. There are no cars, only golf pickups driving around. Such a peaceful place. There are no sellers hazzeling you at their stalls so you have the freedom to look at what they sell in peace and quite. The same for the beach. The beach has white soft sand, and a green like sea. I must admit the sea wasnt as beautiful as in San Andres, but the peace and quite made up for it a thousand times over. There were no sellers at the beach or restaurants. Just a few hotels scattered around. There were lots of shade under palmtrees as well as sun beds. In the evening you could watch the sun set at the beach together with the locals.

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The day after was the big whale shark day. I had to turn up at the tour office at 7 in the morning. There we eat a small breakfast before we went out into the boat. We were a total of 10 people and 2 guides. The boat drive was about 2-3 hours before we reached the place of the whale shark. Obviously there were several boats circling the whale shark. From each boat only 2-3 people could enter at a time together with a guide. As the shark is obviously not too pleased about having loads of boats following it, you have to jump quickly out in the waters while the shark is still near the surface. After a short while it goes deep into the sea to get some peace before coming up again. Everybody in our boat had the chance to swim with the whale shark three times. The third, and last was definitely the best as we it was only us and another boat, so the shark was much more relaxed. It also decided to eat, which is usually does near the surface. This gave us excellent opportunity to spend a lot of time with the shark. I have to admit it was really thrilling, but also a bit scary. The animal its huge, and I was not keen to get hit by its tale by accident. Also, while I was swimming with the shark the third time, it suddenly changed direction and came swimming straight towards me. I swear I have never swum so fast (away) before. But I loved every minute of it.

After the swimming with the shark, we did some snorkeling in less deep waters. Here the guides were preparing ceviche while we were snorkeling. The guides were throwing the fish into the water, which obviously attracted a lot of fishes - including a sting ray and a nurse shark. Must admit that scared me much more than the whale shark, as these fishes eat other fishes which made me afraid they might want to change their diet to some human legs. When we were done snorkeling we got served delicious ceviche, literary freshly caught from the sea. Tasted really good!

I have no pictures from the tour, so I add some pictures of the beach instead.
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After the tour, I traveled back to Cancun to meet up with Jenna again. I must admit I really loved Isla Holbox, if I was to plan another trip to Mexico I would deferentially spend more time there. So if you like peaceful beach destinations - Isla Holbox is the place for you!

Posted by Oiesof 23:13 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Day 7-10: San Andres

Visiting the island of the seven coloured sea

sunny 30 °C
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So I arrived in beautiful San Andres just to spend the first day inside with a food poisoning. Not the best start to the trip to San Andres. However, I was luckily fit for fighting the day after so we still had enough days to explore.

The first day we went on a tour to el Acuario and Johnny Kay. El Acuario was a tiny island with good location for snorkeling. There, I met an older man from San Andres who gave me a guided snorkeling tour showing me many different fishes. He also wanted to show me the sleeping sharks, but they were unfortunately not in the spot they used to be. Otherwise, I didnt really like the area as it was too many people and few places to sit down in the shade. I got super hot and very stressed due to all the people. After that we traveled to Johnny Kay another, but bigger island, perfect for swimming and general beach life. On our way between the two islands we where driving by boat. This was almost the best experience as you could see how truly amazing and blue the ocean really is. I have never seen such a blue blue ocean in my life. It was so beautiful! However, the perfect ocean experience was ruined by stressed tourist and colombians wanting to board the boats all at once as we were leaving Johnny Kay. People were fighting to get on the boats and didnt follow the queue. They were acting as if the tour operators would leave them stranded on the beach if they didnt manage to jump on a boat as soon as possible. Hence, too many people kind of ruined the experience a bit.
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On the second day we decided to explore the inland of the Island. This is the least Colombian influenced part of the island. Here you find people who have creole as their first language. The houses and the people were all very Caribbean. It was lade back and beautiful and I absolutely loved it. We visited a church and went up in its bell tower to get a full view of the whole island. It was a bit scary as there was hardly any railing to protect us. Finally, we took the bus to la Piscina were we went for a swim with lots of fishes. At the entrance we where given bread to give to the fish. The fish would literately eat out of your hand. Quite funny but I also found it a bit scary being surrounded by so many fishes - haha! After the swim I went to see the coconut house. I had been recommended this place by Lonely Planet, but I have to admit I was disappointed, as it was only a wooden house (made of the coconut three), I thought it would be more coconut related things. In the evening I bought a few souvenirs.
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Finally, on our last day we went to a beach called Rocky Kay. From this beach it is possible to walk to and island located some meters away from the beach. We enjoyed our afternoon at the beach before setting off to our next destination - Mexico!

Posted by Oiesof 22:56 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Day 3-6: Cartagena

Visiting the UNESCO world heritage city

semi-overcast 30 °C
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After a few days in Bogotá it was time to leave to meet my travel companion, Jenna, in Cartagena. The city is famous for its beautirul colonial buildings. Most of these buildings are located inside a wall, known as the walled city. There are also some located outside the wall. I found the old area outside the most charming as you could see Colombians going on with their daily life. This is also the area where most of the hostels are located.
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The itinerary for Cartagena was pretty relaxed. We spent the first day getting ourselves comfortable and exploring the walled city. The second day we went to the city beached in the morning only to be surprised by heavy rain and a thunderstorm in the afternoon. The third day was spent exploring the walled city a bit more systematically, including some of its museums. We visited the inquisition museum which basically told the story of how people where tortured and burnt for being witches, herritics etc. In the evening we visited one of the oldest and biggest fortresses the Spaniards ever built in its colonies. It had many secret tunnels and we had a great time exploring some of them. Finally, the last day we booked a tour going to Playa Blanca. It was a beautiful white beach located one hour outside Cartagena. Because of its popularity it was quite expensive. However, the beach had lockers which made it possible to properly relax. I was a bit eager on getting my white skin a little less white, and obviously managed to get sunburnt - au! Luckily, we were traveling the next day so I got the much needed time out of the sun.

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All in all, I loved Cartagena! If you like old charming buildings and beautiful architecture this is the place for you! The old down reminded me of Habana, Cuba, just with more paints. Which reminds me that I should we writing a blog post for that trip! Anyway, go to Cartagena if you can, but be prepared to sweat. The city is hot and humid, its only drawback.

Posted by Oiesof 00:45 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

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