Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Fabulous Puerto Morelos Part 4

No shoes, no shirt, no problems / Blues what blues... hey I forgot em' / The sun and the sand and a drink in my hand with no bottom / and no shoes, no shirt, and no problems  - Kenny Chesney, No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems
While I am glad we explored other parts of the Riviera Maya, my favorite place remained the town of Puerto Morelos. From Ceiba del Mar we had 3 different options of getting to town. Our first night, not being familiar with the area, we took a taxi. After dinner, just a short walk down the street, we found a taxi stand on the northwest corner of the central plaza, and one 80’s pop song later we were back at the front steps of our hotel. ($10 round trip, not including tip.)
The second way into town was an easy 20-30 minute walk down the beach. Along the way we saw a cute little beach bar shack, where we pulled up a seat, took off our shoes and enjoyed a few cold beers and a coke. A little further down the beach was something even better than a bar, walking among the groups of beach goers were vendors selling cotton candy, obviously making this one of my top 5 favorite beaches. ( I was so excited about the cotton candy I didn't get to take a good picture.)
My favorite way into town was definitely by bicycle. The Ceiba del Mar Hotel offered a variety of beach cruiser bicycles to borrow, including a tandem bike. While peddling down the quite streets, it was hard to believe that only a few kilometers away was the hustle and bustle of Cancun.
Once in town we had a ton of restaurant options, and since we were visiting during off season we had many of the restaurants to ourselves. That also meant they weren't keeping the restaurants fully stocked, so not to waste ingredients, and the menus were somewhat limited.(We were just happy to be there.) At Cantina Habanero we had great hamburgers and beer, Los Gauchos I practically inhaled a delicious pepperoni empanada and Ole Don Pepe we finally had Mexican food and were entertained by MTV on a big screen TV. (I will oddly associate Trey Songz “Bottoms Up” with Puerto Morelos now.) I wanted to go to Mama’s Bakery but it was always closed by the time we got there, so instead we had Coconut Ice Cream at Nestle, yum.

We didn't just eat while we were in town, of coarse I had to go shopping at the Hunab Ku market. The kids each picked out a souvenir and with such good prices and a little extra room in our suitcases I couldn’t help myself from loading up on all sorts of knickknacks and large beautiful hammock. (Bringing a hammock back through airport security was quite an adventure.)

We typically don’t go back to places when we go on vacation, just because there are so many places in the world to see, but I have to say this might be an exception. We had such a great time and absolutely fell in love not only with the natural beauty but also the friendliness. There may be a lot of pretty places in the world but it’s the people that really make a place wonderful. Puerto Morelos definitely won my heart.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Fabulous Puerto Morelos Part 3

The average tourist wants to go to places where there are no tourists. - Sam Ewing
We had been looking into tours before we even left home and just couldn't find the right one for us. As we sat at the dive shop waiting for our boat, discussing what tour we would settle for, the dive master Enrique, told us not to worry, we could do it ourselves. He, along with the hotel concierge, booked a rental car to be delivered to the hotel the next morning and Enrique helped us with our itinerary, even drawing us a map.
The Sugartarian Family Tour
7:00 am departure from Puerto Morelos
Breakfast in Tulum at Don Cafeto
11:00 - 2:00 Coba
Stop at El Gran Cenote
5th Avenue Playa Del Carmen

Because of the construction in Playa Del Carmen we were running a little late and I already pigged out on pastries at Ceiba Del Mar, so we ended up skipping breakfast at Don Cafeto. We arrived at Coba around 10:30 just in time to watch a gigantic tour group make its way into the park. We decided to give them a head start as we wandered around the shops and grabbed a small bite at one of the restaurants. (They had THE BEST nachos.) As we walked up to the bike rental, at the entrance, we were notified all the bikes were taken so we would be walking the 2 kilometers each way. (I guess giving the tour a head start wasn't the best idea, but then again those nachos were worth it.) 
Even with several tour groups the park never really felt crowded, and many times we were wandering the sites alone. We finally made it to the main attraction, Nohoch Mul, the Yucatan Peninsula's 2nd tallest pyramid, about 12 stories, and one of the few people are still allowed to climb. Perfectly placed a few feet from the pyramid was a snack bar where we loaded up on Gatorade, before making our  climb to the top.

Climbing was a little bit of a challenge, besides being tall and steep, the steps were a little uneven and sometimes narrow, but that is all part of the adventure. The pay off was the amazing view from the top, nothing but a sea of trees for as far as the eye can see. We could have literally spent the entire day in Coba, but we had a lot more to see, so after a total of 3 hours and another plate of nachos we were on our way.
Although it was the perfect suggestion, as we were all a hot sweaty mess after Coba, we did not have time to stop at El Gran Cenote, and had to continued on to Tulum.

Tulum was not what I expected. Starting with the rather large open air shopping center at the parking lot. From the shopping center, we opted to walk the 1km to the entrance of the ruins instead of taking the trolley. (We like to do things the hot hard way.) When we reached the ticket booth, hot sweaty and thirsty, we still had a ways to walk to get to the actual entrance. (Next time we will be more prepared; trolley, drinks, and towel.) Once we walked through the tiny archway entrance, I felt like I just entered Wonderland through the rabbit hole. Everything was picture perfect, if Disney had a historical park, this is what it would look like. Because of the perfection I think it lost some of the historical feel and story Coba had, but it was beautiful none the less. It was surprisingly uncrowded, I was warned in all the guide books how crowed Tulum gets later in the day, and we had most of the pathways to ourselves. We were pretty underwhelmed after seeing Coba in a more natural atmosphere, until we reached the beach. This is where Tulum stands out.
We spent the majority of our time at the beach. It was a little crowded, but we still managed to find a place behind a large bolder to sit and relax as the kids cooled off in the surf. This was another place we could have stayed all day, but we were getting tired and hungry so we headed back to the shopping center for a early dinner. After dinner we had a Haagen-Dazs ice cream, and did a little shopping before we made our way to our last stop.
This stop was the stop for me.(The only shopper in the group) 5th Avenue was a beautiful cobble stone street, lined with trees, shops and restaurants, that seamed to go on forever. It just wasn't my kind of shopping, with prices 3 times that of Tulum or Puerto Morelos, we spent most of our time just walking.
As the sun set, we made our way back to Puerto Morelos and called it a night.

To be continued........I swear it is the last one :)


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