Friday, June 7, 2013

Mexico Part V: Playa del Carmen (Take One)

Playa del Carmen

Day 1: Took the ADO bus from Valladolid to Playa del Carmen (140 pesos each). It took about 2.5 hours. We then walked from the bus station to our hotel, Club Yebo. Checked into the hotel.
Hotel: Club Yebo. Awesome. We had the Studio de Luxe which had a king bed and a small single as well, in a separate little nook. It came with a kitchenette—mini-fridge, microwave, real coffee maker, stove top, and dishes, flatware, etc. A giant blue container of purified water. Nice large bathroom and excellent quiet AC. There was also a nice balcony with two chairs a hammock and a table. The hotel also has a nice pool. We paid just $52 USD a night, which for what we saw was by far the best deal in town. The hotel is one block from the beach and one block from 5th Avenue. The hotel also comes with two nice beach chairs and a cooler, so if you want to park it on the beach without paying for chairs and an umbrella you have a nice set-up. They do offer a beach club promotion for $1 USD per person right out on the beach near the hotel. The beach club is not your typical beach club. We had to encourage them to get us an umbrella, but once we worked everything out it was great—as nice as anything else on the beach and way cheaper. The guy running the beach club was very nice and will sell you food and beer for reasonable prices if you want. But he had no problem with us bringing our cooler full of beer. Great deal. Also, this was the first place we’ve stayed in Mexico that actually had wi-fi in our room for free that worked with a good strong signal. Other places we’ve stayed claimed they had free wi-fi but it really only worked near the lobby.

Day 1 Continued: My wife’s eye was still bothering her. The beach was way too bright. We headed to 5th Avenue to see what it was all about. She sat in the shade while I scouted restaurants for lunch. We ended up at La Parilla. They had 2 for 1 beers during the day. Ice cold for 37 pesos (for two) which was better than the 2 for 50 peso deal most places run. We had fish ceviche (so-so) and chicken nachos (excellent American-style nachos with lots of good chicken). People sitting next to us went crazy with their meal. Some kind of steaks platter, which had four large sirloins at least, on some table charcoal heater. Looked amazing. Then they had a flambĂ©ed mango dessert that the entire staff watched the chef make tableside. We planned on coming back to this place for a real meal. After lunch I made a trip to Mega for supplies. Just a short walk from the hotel, near the bus station. Mega had great ceviche in their seafood area. Other than that I just bought a bunch of vegetables since we’ve been missing produce on this trip. That night we ate ceviche for dinner and wandered 5th Avenue observing the endless scene.

Day 2: Brewed coffee in the room. Wonderful. Went to the beach club associated with Club Yebo, paid our $1 USD each and set up shop for the day. We had sandwiches we made and beer from Mega in our cooler with ice. I bought the ice at the Oxxo store just a block back from 5th Avenue. Nice beach. But there were some diving boats anchored near us. Still no beach we’ve seen comes close to Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres, but Playa del Carmen is fine. Had a good afternoon in the sun. Ate dinner in our hotel room and then wandered 5th Avenue up and down with margaritas in hand. This must be the world’s longest stretch of restaurants bars and shops. Obviously very touristy but fun and interesting with all kinds of options.

Day 3: Cloudy weather. We took a long walk down the beach, past the ferry terminal, by some larger all-inclusive hotels. Checked out some shops on the way back. Walked north to the other beach, past the northern ferry pier. This part of 5th Avenue is different. Not as busy, Restaurants a little cheaper. In general a little stranger. On the positive side the restaurant we ate (can’t remember the name) at had excellent Mexican food with very spicy green salsa. Decided against buying any pot or cocaine, despite the constant offers. Finally headed home and relaxed at the hotel. There are many Mexican restaurants on 5th Avenue and by the end of our 3rd day it was clear that most are very good and generally over-priced.

Day 4: Walked to the ferry terminal with our luggage to head to Cozumel. No problem . Ferry tickets are $156 pesos per person, one-way. Ate some food while we waited. I had a torta from a food cart. Concinita Pibil, which was recommended on TA. Looked like chicken, tasted like chicken and bread. Good, but not as exciting as I expected based on other people’s reactions and recommendations. Maybe I got the wrong thing. Very popular with locals and tourists, $18 pesos. My wife had a slice of pizza at the ferry port that was unexpectedly delicious.

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