more than 8000 km trip started on the 13th of March 2000. We bought the
trip through a company called
here in Norway. It was sort of a package deal where we got the flight
and the hotel arranged. First we had to go to Oslo and then we had to go
to Stockholm in Sweden to get the flight that went straight for
Cancun in Mexico. The distance is as I already mentioned more than
8000 km and it took us about 12 hours and 30 minutes to get to Cancun.
It has been a long time since I have been on a plane for such a long
period and it got really really boring towards the
of the flight. The airline company that took us there was
Novair. It was a pretty new Airbus plane. The only thing that
annoyed me was that there were little TV screens in all the seats and we
still all had to see the same movies even if there was potential for
playing games and to change channels on the TV. And when going on
chartered airlines it means that you have to buy all the drinks and even
buy the earphones and I'm not used to that since I have travelled more
with KLM and British Airways.
finally arrived in Cancun airport at about 11 pm and Apollo rented buses
that took us to our destination Playa del Carmen. Playa del
Carmen is a small town located about 45 minutes (by bus) outside Cancun.
We stayed at a hotel called
Paradise. The hotel itself was OK.
had a room with some kitchen equipment in it so that we could at least
make some breakfast there. There was a nice pool in the garden of the
hotel that we used quite a lot. We did have trouble getting used to the
noisy air condition (so we only used the fan) and the hard beds. The
location wasn't too bad either. It was maybe 300-400 meters down to the
beach and about the same to get to the main street in Playa del Carmen
(called 5th avenue).
first thing when we did when we got to the hotel at 1 am was to go
straight to bed of course. There is nothing like sleeping in a bed after
you have spent lots of time on a plane (in a chair where it is almost
impossible to get some sleep). The next day was spent walking around in
Playa del Carmen to get to know the place and also to get used to the
heat and the new time zone. Yes, it was pretty hot and it was so nice to
go from the cold Norwegian spring to 30 degrees Celsius during the day
and 20 degrees during the night. And even if it was quite windy the
first few days it was still very nice and warm and clouds only covered
the sun occasionally.
I mentioned there is a sort of Main Street in Playa del Carmen. This is
filled with restaurants, bars and little shops. The shop owners was of
course very interested in getting us into their stores and that can be
annoying. At first it is charming but as the days go by it becomes more
and more annoying. To start out with I was polite and said no thanks and
looked at them but as the days progressed I ignored them more and more.
not used to this tactics from here in Norway so I get a bit stressed up
about it. We got suckered one day when we saw a big iguana on some rugs
and we went over to touch it. The guy asked if we wanted to take a
picture and I said "sure". He put us down in chairs and before we knew
it he had put rugs and a sombrero on us and he put the iguana on our lap
and then he said "I charge 100 pesos to take the picture"...and he was
using my camera :-). So he got me there. The main products of the stores
are silver, sombreros, tequila (of course), cigars and handcraft.
street (5th avenue) was filled with places were they had Internet cafes.
They charged like 0,5 pesos a minute and that is not bad. But the
connection wasn't great either but it was good enough for me to be able
to check if I had enough money in my account to have fun :-) Talking
about money: I'm still surprised how great it is to travel without
money. On the first day I just had to find an ATM and I took out some
cash and then I was ready to spend.
The beach in Playa Del Carmen was looong
and it was very nice. The water has this green colour that just makes it
look very attractive. There is a reef right outside the beach and people
did snorkel on that. We stuck to just having fun in the waves.
a couple of days in Playa we decided that it was time to get around.The
first place we went to was the
This park is a combination between a zoo, aquarium, a place where you
can snorkel, it has information about the Maya culture and it has some
was quite expensive to get into the park (about 750 pesos for two) and
that is about 75 US dollars. But we had a great day there and we stayed
all day. We did of course try the natural underground river that they
have in this place. We put on life jackets and went into the stream and
then we went with the current. It was pretty long actually (so long that
it was great to get back in the sun to warm up :-). At night we saw a
show with a Mexican theme. It included singing and dancing. We also got
to see an "old" sport being performed. The Mayan used to play a ballgame
(it is still played some places in Mexico) where they only use their
hips. There are ball courts in many of the ruins around in Central
normally a bit hyper but this time we were able to mix relaxation with
activities. Every second day we went out and every second day we stayed
in a relaxed by the pool.Apollo had many trips that they arranged but we
decided to go by ourselves. The bus station in the middle of Playa del
Carmen was great and it was easy to get around by taking the bus. The
only problem when taking the bus is that they always have the
air-condition running at max speed :-(. So you get on the bus in shorts
and t-shirt and then you freeze and wait to get to your destination.
a few days we went into Cancun. According to what I have read this was
just a little place with 100 people living there in 1970. Now it is a
city with 400.000 people and they have a string of hotels in the hotel
zone. We came to Cancun in the middle of spring break and that means
that Cancun was filled with drunk, loud and sunburnt Americans.
being a bit mean now but we sat on the bus and these college guys are
bragging about how many times they threw up last night and how much beer
they drank. I found Cancun very "artificial". When you get into stores
all the prices are in US dollars and not in pesos. We went into some of
the shopping malls and played some minigolf. The beaches in the hotel
zone are great by the way. Miles and miles of white sand. Cancun is just
45 minutes north of Playa del Carmen and buses leave from the bus
station every 15th minute and it only cost about 25 pesos per person.
about being sunburnt. I did manage to avoid being sunburned but that is
only thanks to plenty of sun cream :-). I think I used of most of a
factor 10 the first week. I also used a bit of 6, 20 and 30. The sun was
very strong indeed but it was nice to feel its warmth again. So I did
actually manage to get some tan before I got back to Norway.
went snorkelling one day at the island of
Cozumel. This is located just outside Playa del Carmen and the
ferry over takes about 30-40 minutes. The reef that goes from Mexico
down to Belize is the second largest reef in the world and I was
impressed when we started snorkelling. The depths varied from 1 to 15
meters but it was not a problem to see straight down to the bottom. We
saw lots of fish, lobsters
we even spotted a couple of manta rays. We bought this "deal" on the
pier in Playa and I think that we paid something like 500 pesos for two.
We were taken out to three different locations in a glass bottom boat
and the instructor that went into the water with us was great. He was
constantly on the move and he pointed out were we could spot interesting
stuff. And it was great to have a cold beer after snorkelling :-). The
waves were pretty big when we went in the last time and he was pretty
exhausting to keep up with the instructor. But this part is something
that I will remember for a long time.
day we got up early and we got on the bus to go to the Mayan city of
Chichen Itza, which is located near Merida. The bus was once
again a great way to travel even if the scenery was pretty boring. The
toll road from Merida to Cancun is especially boring and there is noting
to see on that route. Chichen Itza is one of the best places in the
Yucatan to see ruins after the Mayans.
area is quite big and some of the stuff is spectacular. It costs about
75 pesos to get in but it is worth that. I do regret that we didn't go
for a guide when we were in there because they seemed to be giving out
lots of interesting details about the buildings and the Mayan history to
their groups. The main building in Chichen Itza is great pyramid "El
Castillo" (The castle). I was hoping that we could go inside it or maybe
climb it but it was off limits when we were there. It was very hot the
day when we went to this place (probably 35 degrees) so it was hard
walking around there all day.
of Playa del Carmen there is another eco park called
Xel-Ha. One day
we decided to go there but to save some money we decided to rent
snorkelling gear in Playa del Carmen instead of in Xel-Ha. When we
rented the stuff the guy in the store recommended that we should go to a
place called Akumal instead of going to Xel-Ha.
places basically have the same but Xel-Ha is more commercial. So we got
on the buss once again and we jumped of at Akumal. When we looked at the
map it looked like it would be a short walk from the main beach to the
lagoon but it turned out to be like 3 km :-). But we reached the
inlet/lagoon in the end and it was great. The water wasn't that clear
because people were splashing around. But there were fish everywhere.
Rocks surrounded the lagoon so there wasn't really a nice place to camp
down but we spent most of the time in the water anywhere.
went back to Cancun later on in the vacation to go to a place called
This place is a sort of Wet 'n' Wild waterpark. It cost about 250 pesos
pr person to get it and there were not that many rides inside. We even
had to pay
to get a tiny locker inside and we had to put down like 200 pesos in a
deposit to get this. This park is connected to other attractions (such
as a place where you can swim with dolphins) but it costs extra to get
into these places. But we did have fun in the park for several ours and
we did try most of the slides 3-4 times. There is a wave pool in the
middle of the park and the waves were great :-)
from this we just relaxed at nights. We went out to eat in the different
restaurants in Playa and we had some drinks here and there. The drinks
are very cheap compared to what I'm used to here in Norway :-). It was a
great vacation but it would have been even better if we had had the time
to travel around more in Mexico cause I think that Mexico has a lot more
to offer than the Mayan Riviera.
the end it was time to go home. The trip home actually went a lot
faster. I guess we had a strong tail wind because used like 9 or 10
hours to go to Sweden (compared to the 12 hours it took us to get to
Mexico. Please get in touch with me on
you have any questions or comments about the trip.