Friday, January 26, 2018

Mexico Diary - Chichén Itzá and Valladolid

Happy Friday, everyone! Did you all have a fantastic week or was it as stressful and long as mine? ;-) Lately we have so much to do at work that it's impossible for me to find time to write a new post or keep up with social media or even sleep! In case you didn't know I'm working at a villa rental agency here on Mallorca and people are booking holiday homes like crazy in January. And you know, after spending eight hours in the office concentrating on names and numbers and staring at the screen I don't really want to spend more time at my laptop when I'm home. Do you know this feeling? Do you have similar jobs and also have to spend hours in front of a computer? Anyway, tonight I finally had a quiet hour for myself to get some blog work done so now you get to see some new pics of my Mexico trip.
After spending a few days in Tulum my boyfriend and I stayed in Valladolid for three nights and explored the beautiful city, some ancient Maya ruins and pink lakes (yes, pink lakes, I will write a separate post about them). We arrived in Valladolid late in the afternoon and just did some food shopping, took showers and went to bed early on our first day. The next morning we got up early and went to the ADO bus station, the taxis to the archaeological site of Chichén Itzá were waiting right next to it. So we got on a collectivo that took us to the ruins where we waited in line for about 20 minutes, paid the 20 Euro entrance fee for both of us and started walking. The archaelogical site of Chichén Itzá is huge and really impressive. I really didn't want to miss it because it's one of Mexico's largest Maya cities with tall, beautiful buildings including the famous pyramid called 'El Castillo', several temples and a ballcourt. Even though visitors are not allowed to climb the buildings or go inside anymore Chichén Itzá is totally worth a visit, I couldn't believe how well preserved the buildings are. You learn so much about the Maya culture, their history and architecture, you can literally feel the mystical vibes of this site. Walking through the 'city' admiring the huge buildings and details on the stairs and walls made me imagine what it'd be like wandering through an ancient Maya city seeing all its inhabitants work, play, holding ceremonies in the temples and just living their life. Sometimes I wish I could turn back time to see how people lived before. My boyfriend and I spent hours exploring the archaeological site, there was so much to see! Did you know that Chichén Itzá is one of the seven new wonders of the world? I'm so glad I got to see it!

After spending hours in the sun exploring the whole archaeological site of Chichén Itzá we were super hungry and tired so we took the next bus back to Valladolid and spent a quiet afternoon there. We changed in the hostel (we had a really nice apartment-like room at the Hostal Gayser) and went for a stroll through town. We stopped by a few shops, had some amazingly delicious pitaya lemonade (gosh, I miss it so much!), visited the museum of cacao and had some street food for lunch and dinner. Sorry, I forgot the name of what we ate but I can tell you it was super tasty, haha! Valladolid is such a lively, colorful colonial town with lots of pretty buildings, cute shops and fantastic restaurants and food stands so I recommend you spend at least one entire day there when you travel to Mexico. I hope you liked this post, wishing you all a fantastic and relaxing weekend!

Our room at the Gayser Hostal

The beautiful Casona de Valladolid

Tamales for dinner

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Mexico Diary - Tulum, Turtles and Cenotes

Hey there, guys! Sorry that I didn't post in a while. It was my boyfriend's birthday last weekend and we went on a spontaneous short trip to Barcelona to spend his big day there. Also, I've been working like crazy since I got back from Germany and a full day job unfortunately doesn't leave much time for a blog. Anyway, today I finally have a new post for you about more unforgettable experiences we had in Mexico or more precisely in Tulum.
On our third and last day in Tulum we went on two short trips before leaving for the colonial town Valladolid in the afternoon. Our first stop was the beach in Akumal where we wanted to go swim with turtles. We had never actually planned that trip, I read about the turtles in Akumal the night before and we spontaneously decided that we wanted to go see them because Akumal is just a half-hour drive from Tulum and I had never seen wild turtles in their natural habitat until then. So early in the morning we got on a collectivo van (the same one we took to the ruins on the second day) and went to Akumal. The van left us along the road and we had to walk a bit, only about 5 minutes, to get to the beach. On our way there we passed by lots of locals trying to convince us that you need life jackets to snorkel at the beach and wanting to sell us snorkeling tours. Just ignore these guys, you don't need life jackets nor guided tours to be able to see the turtles even though lots of Mexicans will try to convince you that it's only legal to snorkel with the animals if you're with a guide. I have read about this issue before and informed myself very well therefore I knew that we could just pass by the local vendors and diving schools and go swim with the turtles all by ourselves. Since we had our own snorkels from home with us we just dropped off our backpack at a diving school where you can rent all what you need and went right to the beach. At first it was a little difficult to decide where we could swim because the beach is divided into different areas marked with buoys. Some of these areas can not be accessed by humans, they are there to protect the turtles. When the turtles are stressed or tired or simply hungry and want to eat in peace they can swim there. I love this idea, this way the crazy tourists can't just follow the turtles wherever they want but have to respect their 'private areas'. After snorkeling for a while in the designated areas we saw our first turtle slowly appear from nowhere and swam with it for a while side by side. This was a highly unique experience! To see these wild, calm and big (!) creatures swim and eat so peacefully was simply unforgettable. Akumal is the perfect place for swimming with turtles. The beach itself is beautiful but what's beneath the surface is even more amazing! I mean where can you watch and swim with turtles for free right in the shallow water without having to dive metres and metres? I could have spent hours with these cute animals! We spotted two turtles that morning and what's best is that we were totally alone with them, no one followed us, all the other tourists were swimming in guided groups. We also saw many other beautiful fishes and corals. All in all an unforgettable, marvelous experience that I'm happy we didn't miss!

After snorkeling with these cute turtles we went to the Gran Cenote before taking the bus to Valladolid. We already swam in a cenote before, the Cenote Azul in Bacalar, however that one was deep, very large and dark and we couldn't really see much of the underwater world there. So we wanted to check out a second cenote and decided to give the Gran Cenote in Tulum a try since I had heard mostly positive things about it. We took the collectivo back from Akumal to Tulum town and from there a cab to the cenote. We paid each the 180 Pesos entrance fee (about 9 Euro, pretty expensive in my opinion) and took a shower there. The Gran Cenote is pretty touristy and therefore very well equipped. There is lots of space to relax on a lawn or in hammocks and they also have lockers and showers (it's important to shower BEFORE you go swimming to wash off all the sun lotion or other cosmetics, keeps the cenote clean). After taking a shower we walked down to the cenote. The whole place was really magical but I was mostly impressed by how crystal clear the water was. It seriously felt like swimming through air because you could see everything, I mean every person, little fish and rock formation, without any trouble. The shades of blue when the sun came in were beyond beautiful as well. The cenote was pretty crowded but didn't really feel like it. There was lots of space to snorkel, swim and relax and at times we were totally alone. There are hundreds of mystical, amazing cenotes all over the Yucatan peninsula and I have only seen two of them but I can totally recommend the Gran Cenote in Tulum!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Mexico Diary - Tulum Beach and Ruins

Hello there, did you all have a great start of 2018? I'm back on my beloved island Mallorca by now enjoying the mild climate and being with my boyfriend.

Today I have a new post for you with some pics of Tulum. Lean back and make yourself comfortable, it's a long one ;-) 
Lately, everyone seems to be going to Tulum, especially bloggers. I see it all over Instagram - photos of its white beaches, mystical ruins and cute cafés. Since it was on our way to our next stop Valladolid we decided to spend a few days in Tulum too.
We arrived in the morning after a three-hour bus ride from Bacalar and Miguel quickly found a nice hotel where we would stay the next two nights. Our hotel Casa Rosa was right behind the bus station and we had a spacious, colorful room with a huge and comfy bed. It wasn't really expensive, we payed about 300 Pesos per night, 15 Euro more or less.
We spent the afternooon strolling through the town, eating and buying some souvenirs for our loved ones at home. Tulum is devided into two different parts. There is the original, more authentic town with all its shops, restaurants, affordable hostels and hotels and the playa, the beach strip, where you will find one luxury hotel next to the other mixed with hippie shops, hip cafés and restaurants and stylish people on bikes. Both parts are pretty laid-back which is why I loved Tulum so much.
Later that day we decided to explore the beach area a little. The girl working at the reception of our hotel was super nice and left us some bikes because the beach was about 5 kilometers away from the town. I loved the playa, its relaxed atmosphere, the shops with their beautiful boho clothes and the trendy food places in the middle of what felt like a jungle. However, I was a little disappointed by how touristy and limited the area was. You can't access the beach unless you stay in one of the expensive hotels or resorts - what a shame, especially for the locals. We spent only one hour in the beach area of Tulum and then headed back to our hotel to do some food shopping for the next day.

Our hotel, can you tell why it's called Casa Rosa?

The town of Tulum

Heading to the beach

The cute Matcha Mama café, one of many hip places in the beach area

On our second day, we decided to visit the famous Tulum Ruins. 
We got up early to avoid the tourist masses and took a 'collectivo' there, which is a shared van mostly used by locals and the ideal tranport for people traveling on a budget. We paid only 20 pesos for a 10 minute ride. The van dropped us off at the main street from where it was an easy walk to the entrance. We paid the 70 Pesos entrance fee and explored the ruins all morning long. The archaeologcial site was not the biggest one we visited in Mexico but its location was absolutely beautiful. The ruins are located right next to the paradisiac beach of Tulum so you have amazing sea views while traveling back in time and soaking in the Mayan culture.

After exploring the Mayan ruins for a few hours we needed some refreshment and found the perfect place for a nice bath. You can actually swim right next to the ruins, there is a public beach on the archaeological site but we found an even better spot. Only a five-minute walk further down that same beach was totally empty. There were only a handful of tourists and vendors - lucky us, we basically had the whole beach for ourselves. We spent the next few hours chilling in the sun, going for a swim, having lunch and just enjoying the white sand, the crystal clear water and the sounds of the palm trees in the wind. Awww, Tulum, you're so beautiful!

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