Arriba!

Posted on October 19, 2014

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Guacamole for breakfast and tequila on tap. They had me at hello.

Then add in swims with whale sharks, exploring Mayan temples, snorkelling with the most colourful fish, wall to wall sunshine – sometimes too hot to handle, walks on white sandy beaches and swims in crystal clear seas, and wrap this all up in the most genuine and friendly welcome and you have described my perfect location.

Mexico, Playa Del Carmen, what a place.

Two weeks of bliss.

Tulum, Mexico, Playa del Carmen, Whale sharks, Coba, Gran Porto Real, Mayan, Mayan Riviera, LizardWhat I loved … the people. They were kind, generous and welcoming.  The customer service was exceptional across the entire resort, with everyone showing a real pride in the resort and the part of it.  The Gran Porto Real hotel was immaculate, inside and out, again largely due to the pride taken by the team.  Outside of the resort, the people clearly cared about us, as visitors to their country, but also their country, advising us, for example, to use biodegradable sun lotion in the seas.

 

The food. A Mexican night at our house is always a winner. So to have a Mexican night every night for 2 weeks was surely going to be perfection.  What I hadn’t expected was the wider choice on offer. Of course, during the day, the beach bar (and the many other food outlets) offered salad, tacos, tortilla chips, chilli, seafood and naturally, guacamole … but also there was the healthy option, Sushi bar, and the self service restaurant which had varied themes and so much choice every day.  To top it off, there were two a la carte restaurants, one a Mexican and one an Italian. At both the menus were fantastic and the quality of food exceptional.  We particularly enjoyed the filet steaks at both restaurants, regularly!

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The drinks. Of course. It was an all-inclusive resort, that did not mean drinking to excess, but it did mean trying a range of wines, cocktails, both alcoholic and as my son quickly learned ‘sin alcohol’ and local beers.  Naturally, we tasted many different tequilas, aged and drunk like brandy and younger, in a shot glass, both with lime and salt and my new favourite, with grenadine and lemonade – boom boom.

The sites and sights. We travelled to two Mayan temple sites, one at Coba and one at Tulum.  We climbed to the top, we explored the ruins and we learnt so much about the history and mystery of the Mayans. It was hot, and thankfully the site at Tulum was built on a cliff top, with a pathway to the beach – once we’d explored the temples we were able to swim in the clearest blue waters and cool down completely.

Tulum, Mexico, Xel Ha, Playa del Carmen, Whale sharks, Coba, Gran Porto RealThe excitement. We went on two waterbased excursions, both of which were money and time well spent! We swam, lounged, snorkelled and explored at Xel Ha, the most incredible natural water playground I have ever seen.  I spent much of the time shouting ‘fish’ as I was surrounded by colourful clown fish; I hid my eyes as my son jumped off a cliff edge into the water; I cycled through the jungle on a bike with brakes on the pedals; and I fell in love with the most handsome lizards … all wandering freely and enjoying the water park as much as we were.  What a treat.

The second excursion was a once in a life time adventure. We swam with whale sharks. Something I will never forget. We’d booked the excursion at the start of the first week, so there had been days to think about what could go wrong, and to make up a range of scenarios, not least, my beautiful boy being swallowed by one.  However, common sense and a splash of bravery prevailed and we all went on the trip, taking a deep breath and jumping in when told to by the boat’s captain.  The nervous delight on my son’s face as these huge but gentle creatures swam past him, hearing my heart beat in my head as I swam alongside, and the excited chatter about what we’d seen and how close we’d been when we climbed back on board.  Memories that will stay with us all forever. The day ended with a floating lunch at the beach … perfect.

What was not so great? The over-billed, overpriced and underwhelming ‘Captain Hook’s adventure’.  It could have been a fantastic adventure, it had all of the ingredients, but unfortunately, its delivery was slightly off kilter.  More of a booze cruise with 90’s rave music, than a pirate night.  It suited many of the visitors, but those with families, who were expecting a pirate focused fun than drinking games were clearly disappointed. It was also the only experience in the whole trip where the food was terrible, which was a shame, as we were looking forward to steak and lobster – equally, my son, was looking forward to the kids buffet … and was sadly disappointed to be offered chicken nuggets and chips!

But that was the only downside of a truly fantastic visit. I shall definitely go back to Mexico, I want to explore more, relax more, soak up more of the atmosphere, and of course, drink more tequila and eat more guacamole!

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