Friday, 11 May 2012

Tulum Ruins and Relaxing in Touristy Playa del Carmen


We were so happy to get off our bus into the fresh morning ocean air at Tulum, and we set out straight away to find a hostel (we should’ve used the bathroom first as we hadn’t braved the bus one!)  Turns out that Tulum is quite expensive and touristy and it took an hour of hiking up and down the main strip in town with our backpacks before we finally settled on Casa del Sol, which cost more than we wanted to pay, but at that point we needed  to put our backpacks down and also use their toilet, so the decision was made! 

The Grand Cenote's crystal clear waters
After dumping our bags we hired two bikes and rode to the nearby ‘Grand Cenote’ (stopping en route at a supermarket for some much needed caffeine).  The cenote was really tranquil, with refreshing, crystal clear water, lots of underground caverns to explore and little fish that nibbled your toes.  It was the nicest and the much needed thing after our grubby bus ride.

From there we rode down to the beach where we walked along the expensive waterfront hotels and found a place without too much of a rip for a quick swim as it was getting late and we had to have the bikes back by dusk.  Unfortunately, as the case so often is, riding back worked up enough sweat that we needed another swim after we returned the bikes…. 

Tulum ruins right on the beach
In town we found a cheap taqueria for dinner and strolled the streets with our guava ice blocks before crashing back at the hotel as our sleepless bus trip caught up with us.  Nevertheless, our alarm was again set early so we could be amongst the first to visit the Tulum ruins the next day.

It’s the location of the Tulum ruins that probably sets them apart from the other Mayan sites.  Situated right next to ocean, the site has amazing views and a completely different feel about it compared with the others that we visited.  Again it was worth the early morning, even though the site is small and only takes an hour and a half to explore, by 10am the crowds were arriving.  It’s hard to get a close look at most of the structures as they are all roped off, but this doesn’t matter too much as it’s the overall site that is impressive (along with a lot of amazing birds that we spotted while waiting for the tourists to move out of our photos….)

Tulum ruins
After heading back to our hostel to collect our backpacks we boarded another Collectivo for the short ride to the touristy destination of Playa del Carmen.  We surprised ourselves and within a couple of minutes found a great, clean hotel for cheaper than anything we’d researched on the net – Posada Papagoya.  By the afternoon we were strolling along white sandy beaches gazing out over crystal clear blue water that invited us for a refreshing swim, and admiring unaffordable hotels packed full of other tourists.  We found a cheap taqueria along the back streets for dinner and then headed back to the water front for some cocktails and night life.

The picturesque Playa del Carmen beach
It seemed that 5 months of constant travel finally caught up with us and we decided that since we had a great hotel in a nice location we’d settle in for 2 days, somewhat of a record for us to stay in one place for.  So we spent the next couple of days relaxing on the beach, swimming, eating and pretending to be normal tourists.   It was much needed but also a little strange to stop after being on the move so constantly.  Nevertheless the days passed too quickly and before we knew it we were catching another Collectivo bound for Isla Mujeres where we planned to belatedly celebrate Dave’s 31st birthday….

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