After getting back from Christmas in cold and snowy Wisconsin, I had a couple days of interviews before heading off to ring in 2017 in Playa del Carmen. It was a rather impromptu trip (booked literally five days before we left) – we decided to split the time off before the boyfriend started his new job between Mexico and Costa Rica. Mexico was an easy decision – we had both been there before and there were plenty of hotel and flight options on such a last-minute basis. We knew we could get pretty good deals, enjoy the sunshine and indulge in cheap Mexican food for a week.
We decided to split our time in Mexico between a cute little boutique hotel downtown Playa del Carmen (for the local flavour, access to Cozumel and Chichen Itza) and a big all-inclusive resort (for the unlimited frozen drinks, beach access and amenities).
As some of you may know, I have a growing magnet collection – pick one up in every place I visit (and some of my nearest and dearest have started adding to the collection as well). Thank god we moved back to America, land of giant fridges!
We managed to avoid the typical New Year’s Eve restaurant trap – set menus at ridiculous prices – by waiting for a table at Los Hijos de la Tostada. We managed to get a table outside around 10pm and settled in to a couple of hours of people watching while we sipped our drinks, ate ridiculous amounts of guacamole, chips, tacos and tostadas. I wish I would have taken more pics of the food because it was absolutely fantastic AND we ended up going there twice. Our NYE feast for 2 cocktails, 3 beers, three tostadas, two tacos, huge thing of guacamole, endless chips, and a plate of fried shrimp for $34. When midnight rang and the fireworks on the beach started, we paid our bill and walked towards the beach – the crowds got a bit too Cancun-esque (too many people, random firecrackers, drunk people everywhere) so we made our way back to our cute hotel.
January 1st, 2017 – what better way to spend the first day of a brand new year then on a beach, with a large coffee, in the warm sunshine?
We spent one of our days in Cozumel – it is a quick 40 minute ferry from the main port in Playa to Cozumel. Based on our trips there and back, I highly recommend sitting far away from anyone, particularly infants. Also, if you are prone to sympathetic puking, it may be worth bringing headphones and a scarf to cover your head. We chose the windiest day ever to take a giant ferry and I had to meditate on the way back to avoid listening or smelling our neighbor with his head in a garbage can. Plesantries aside, Cozumel was beautiful.
We took a taxi for about 25 minutes south of the port to Paradise Beach. We walked for a couple of hours along the beachfront which was almost completely deserted to Playa Palancar.
Another day trip was our adventure to Chichen Itza. We didn’t really feel like dropping over a $100 each on some 12 hour group tour that left before dawn, so we decided to do it our way – rent a cheap car from one of the rental agencies in Playa, drive the 2 hours to Chichen Itza, and explore it ourselves – and yes, we did download an audio tour for our adventure. mxplor Chichen Itza is a full audio tour app you can download from iTunes and it comes complete with a map of the ruins.
Our last three days in Mexico were spent beach-bumming at the all-inclusive. It was nice to have some peace and quiet – not go anywhere, make it to the gym a couple of times, hit the giant buffet up, guac to the max, pina coladas for dayssss and read about 5 books while lying in the shade on the beach, listening to the waves. Bliss. Before we knew it, our week in Mexico was over and we were on our way to Liberia, Costa Rica for another adventure.
Where we stayed:
Downtown Playa: The Bric Hotel
All-inclusive: Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda
Where we ate (the good ones only):
Los Hijos de la Tostada – amazing selection of cold and hot tostadas
Axiote – unique Mexican cuisine, with strange ingredients (grasshoppers!) – had the most amazing seared tuna and avocado tacos here though
Micaela’s – fantastic table-side guacamole preparation, standard Mexican fare
Muy Salsa – amazing chorizo tacos and queso fundido