Travel Flashback: Riviera Maya

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There are some vacations that are just a little more special than others – there’s nothing tangible about it, but everything feels just right.  The activities, the company, the location, the weather – all the little things click into place to create fantastic memories.  Cue Mexico, Spring 2013.  This past winter in Michigan was longer and more tenacious than in previous years, and everyone was plain sick and tired of it.  To help combat this inevitability, Ryan and I try to get to Mexico every year – we can leave from a small local airport and fly direct.  They have inclusive packages that can’t be missed, for seven days it is so cheap. Now, I realize that all-inclusive resorts are considered gauche and unfashionable – but, like most things in life, they are what you make of them.  We’ve actually been to the same resort in the Riviera Maya two years in a row because we enjoy it so much.  No, we don’t partake of many of the organized activities or go to the nightly shows, but their beach is gorgeous, the restaurants are delicious, the pools are clean and beautiful, and it makes a good home base for adventures.

Fun fact – ocean beaches in Mexico are federal property, so you can walk along them for miles. (That’s not to say that some resorts don’t have very ominous-looking patrolmen discouraging you from walking onto their beach…) Anyway, this resort is part of a huge rugged coastline that is just amazing to hike along. And it’s in a very safe part of the country, I’ve never felt uneasy there. This year we also ventured out on public transportation to nearby Playa del Carmen – an awesome little city that was teeming with stuff to do and people to watch.

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The view from our hotel building!

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I love mornings – everything is so quiet, and there’s hardly anyone out and about.  And I always seem to wake up especially early in Mexico, probably because of Central Time, the sun rise, and the fact that I’m typically in bed by 10pm the previous evening.

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These two photographs are of a hike we took right from the resort.  About 45 minutes down the rocky coastline was this enormous lagoon, perfect for snorkeling.  We were the only ones there, and while it was a pretty choppy day, the swimming was still great!

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Playa del Carmen is definitely a city I want to go back to.  Every side street ends at a view like this!

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Fifth Avenue runs parallel to the ocean, and is closed to vehicles, so you can just stroll along, shopping and eating.  It feels less like a tourist trap, and more like a sleepy international beach town.  We happened upon a bar specializing in Canadian football (actual American football, not soccer – did you know Saskatoon has a professional team!?) and soccer – and watched two English premier teams along with a bunch of kids from the UK.  It’s moments like those you don’t forget.  Here we are in Mexico, at a random sports bar, watching soccer with people from Europe.  You can’t plan that.

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This place is like a Corona ad.  Do a little sightseeing, then walk to the beach for some tacos and a margarita.  Then go for a dip!  All these little bars and restaurants are built right on the beach, so you can go for a swim and then have a little nosh.  And repeat.  All day.

Mexico, I dream of you.  As much as I’m excited for sweaters and cute boots, it’s definitely bittersweet.  With summer winding to a close here in the north, I know it won’t be too long before I’m planning a visit to warmer climates.  I hope that visit finds me in one of these beach chairs!

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