Vancouver, Day 2

It’s like the breakfast holiday so far!

Amanda cooked me one of the most amazing breakfast I have had in my life. Fresh croissants, sautéed onions & mushrooms, poached eggs and a béarnaise sauce with truffle oil. Truffle oil! So essentially, an eggs benne on steroids! 

Next up? My first attempt at riding a bike in years. Like, not just a few. Many. Likeeee maybe 15? Maybe more? I haven’t ridden since I was a young teen. Soo I was pretty shaky. And uncoordinated. It would have been hilarious to watch. I struggled. Amanda was in hysterics at my uncoordinated approach. 

Anyway, I made it (slowly with lots of squeals) to Bellas Gelateria which, rumour has it, has the best mimosas in town. I’d care to agree at this stage. Mimosas with a splash of orange creamsicle – yumm. Anda offered for us to have a second, but I could barely drive that push bike sober. 

I forget how beautiful Vancouver is. The Seawall, the sky, the buildings. Yaletown and the Marina is simply stunning.

We made it to sunset beach, spread out the blanket and sunbathed. Actually, we napped. It was lovely. The music, everyone enjoying the sun, warm but not too hot. 

Our friend Pouria met us with some coronas, of which I drank two, now confident I could make it back home on the bike. 

It was definitely a quicker ride home. 

At home we discovered that we were both burnt down our left side only. There was one thing to do – nap. We were supposed to go on a night boat cruise but we were both so wiped out we just went to the bottlo for a red, got some cheese and watched a movie until we crashed out – again.

A lovely, cruisey day. 

   
    
    
    
    
 

Vancouver, Day 1

I feel like I have slipped back in to my old life. With the click of a finger (or rather a flight over the pacific) I’m back with all my old friends, in my old neighbourhood, eating at my old fave food spots. 

Back story here for those who aren’t regular readers, I lived in Vancouver for a year about 1.5 years ago. 

In the morning we got up (Amanda, Barram (her BF), and I) and Barram made me a traditional (freaking delicious) Turkish breakfast. Eggs fried on mushrooms with special sauces and warmed flat bread with condiments. There was honey, sour cherry jam and feta and you choose a few and mix it up – I can’t wait to make it for friends at home.

Might I add that I only met Barram that morning! Great guy. Seriously. He made me breakfast. I love food – he must have had intel. 

Barram and Amanda went to work and I worked from home. Which is what I used to do on Fridays in Vancouver way back when. 

A quick trip to Best Buys and I had a SIM card, adapter for my computer charger and a new wall plug for my iPhone as I’d left mine in NYC. All set up and ready to go! 

I punched out a day at work but there was one stop I HAD to make. Lunch. Duh! But a special lunch, at my favourite ever pizza joint, The Parlour in Yaletown. I dream about this pizza. The Goldmember. It has truffle oil and two types of cheese… Do I really need to say more? I enjoyed it with a crisp cider on the balcony in the sun. Just delightful. I may even go back again before I leave. In fact, of course I will! My mouth is watering already. 

Anyway back to my day. So I finished my incredible pizza, grabbed two takeaway for Amanda and Barram for when they got home and worked the rest of the arvo. What work you ask? Well, I’m working virtually for my usual day job. I work for this incredible company that allows me to work virtually and do industry research from location. I LOVE my job. I have actually missed my job while travelling – that’s a first. I can’t wait to see my colleagues when I’m back too. 

Amanda, Barram, his friend and I took the ferry to North Vancouver to the new Tap & Barrell for our friend Heather’s engagement dinner. We had a blast catching up (don’t go there for the food) and went out in Gastown afterwards. I got home around 3am to a beautifully made bed waiting for me. Great friends and hosts!!   

   
    
    
   
    
    
    
   

My Mexican Boyfriends

One of my favourite aspects of Playa Del Carmen is my Mexican boyfriends! I have sooo many. 

Let me describe to you our conversations…

Mexican: Hola Chica! 

Me: Hola 

Mexican: you want to buy something for your boyfriend? 

Me: . 

Mexican: oh you don’t have a boyfriend? Well, I will be your boyfriend. 

Me: .

Mexican: your Mexican lovvveerrrrr. Available 24/7. Mexican giggalo just for you señorita! 

Me: still walking away 

Mexican: oh yes, wait till I show you my Mexican (still not sure what this word is but you can imagine) …

Me:… Can barely hear them anymore 

Mexican: okay I’ll just wait here for you chicaaaaa! Ooohhhh.

You get the drift, it goes on and on with varying lines. Not just one or two guys, but most of them as you walk down the street. And while they’re trying to be sleezy, they’re just not. They just love talking smack. 

Nikita’s fave was when we were called Charlie’s Angels. 

Often the Mexicans mistake Lauren and I for Mexicans and start talking Spanish to us until they realise we aren’t responding at all. 

It’s a fun game, I need to learn Spanish so I can beat them at it, although, I don’t think it would be quite the same… 

  

Playa Del Carmen – holiday tips

While I loved our five days in Playa Del Carmen, there are a few things I’d do differently next time. Here’s my list:

  • Use ADO for airport transfers. Cheap, comfortable and reliable.
  • Stay at a hotel with a pool. Because of the seaweed issue we couldn’t lie on the beach and it would have been nice to lie poolside and relax a bit.
  • Find a map of Playa Del Carmen! We struggled to find a map and as a result there was a lot we didn’t see or explore.
  • Don’t use Easy Tours unless you are willing to wait for long periods of time and have an average experience. We did the rest of our tours on our own and it was great.
  • I would hire a jeep in Cozumel and explore. This is one that I really wish I had done. The island is small enough to drive around in a day with a number of stops. Cabs will try rip you off left, right and centre.
  • I’d love to have gone fishing. Only tours I could find were chartered and very expensive.
  • Eat more off the beaten path. It’s cheaper, the food is more traditional and the locals love having the gringos to visit.
  • Learn more Spanish! 

  

Playa Del Carmen, Day 5

A very short day in Mexico – I didn’t want to leave! 

Slept in a little then got all our luggage ready. I was flying to Vancouver at 4pm and the girls were heading to Cancun for a night, then LA for a night before they fly back. 

We went for a walk to check the shuttles to the airport and as it turned out we had a lot less time than we thought. We grabbed a fish burrito (very unlike our westernised burrito – it was just a crumbed fish, a little lettuce and tomato in a wrap with chipotle sauce) and headed to the bus station. Transfers direct to Cancun airport cost $12USD – not bad. 

Nikita and Lauren came for the ride to the airport as they were checking in to their hotel in Cancun. We said our goodbyes and went our seperate ways after an awesome 2 weeks together. Later I found out the lucky girls got to see turtles hatch! 

I had lost my immigration form so had to pay $30USD to get through the airport. I’m 

Flew to Phoenix first, I have never seen so many people running through an airport! It was crazy. I nearly missed my flight, so I was one of those people running too. 

My flight was delayed however so I did make it after all and got into Vancouver hit before midnight. 

Flew through customs and bag check, took the skytrain to Yaletown and met up with my good friend Amanda who I am staying with while I’m in Vancouver. 

We walked Keenu (their beautiful husky dog) home and caught up over red wine until 3am. So good to be back!

   
   

Playa Del Carmen, Day 4

I loved Cozumel so much that I decided to go back! I found a $20USD snorkel tour, jumped on the ferry and found the pier. I had an hour to kill till the trip so went for a wander around some art galleries and outside the tourist areas. When I’m alone everyone thinks I am Spanish so I just rolled with it. Haha. 

Grabbed some of the best fish tacos to eat takeaway on the boat – they were so fresh and delicious. 

On the boat, of course, everyone spoke Spanish. I was put on a Spanish speaking tour. It was quite funny, I think I got the gist of what was being said. We went to three reefs, the first one was sh*t – no reefs around, the second was actually on a little reef and had lots of pretty, colourful,tropical fish. The third was a deep snorkel, it was really cool, could see all the schools of fish and two HUGE fishes slowly crawling around the bottom. I haven’t done many like that and I loved it. 

I shared some beers with my Spanish amigos on the way back to shore, the water is crystal clear and beautiful. 

I took the 4pm ferry back and got some shopping done. Lots of gifts for friends and family and colleagues. I kept walking and found a whole new area we hadn’t even explored yet. Shops, malls, food, markets – heaps to see. 

Starving, I sat down for some ceviche (yeap, again) and cerveza (beer) at a small restaurant down a side street. It was great but I started feeling quite motion sick from the snorkelling earlier. I think the beer kicked it in. They made me a fresh salsa right on my table with a grinder. Tomato, cilantro and onion with a little chilli. It was freaking delightful. I’m going to try it when I get back. 

I walked back and met the girls who had been sunbathing all day at a beach club and had a fun trip back in a VW with a local. We went for dinner but the place chosen was terrible service and they said the food was average. I stuck with my beer. 

Lauren and I went for churros afterwards, filled with chocolate hazelnut bueno and sorbet – yum. We people watched on the street for a while and fed our faces. So much sugar though, I couldn’t sleep for ages!! 

An ‘early’ night at 1am for our last night in Mexico. 

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   

Playa Del Carmen, Day 3

We we’re originally booked on an adventure tour but after the screw around the day before, we were more than happy to let the $10 deposit go to waste. 

We accidentally slept until 11am as it was anyway! We decided on checking out some cenotes (beautiful Mexican fresh water wells, some open, some in caves) and attempted to find a tour. It was all too much work so in the end we found some that were reasonably close, grabbed a local shuttle for 20peso and headed out on our own. 

The Kantanchi Ecopark was awesome. We paid $29USD for as long as we liked in four cenotes. The grounds were well manicured, it was like strolling through a maintained jungle. Just beautiful. Throw in some random pens of chickens and horses and a manual rail road and you’re starting to get the picture. 

The first cenotes was the best. #4 on the map, it is a huge open cave, crystal clear water and stallictites hanging from above. There are a few small fish in the fresh, cool water but it’s mainly just a huge, empty pool. Turquoise water, light shining through – absolutely beautiful. 

The next cenote was and open one, beautiful clear water again, same as the next two. We spent a few hours there, until the water was too cool for us to enjoy longer. 

We managed to hail the local shuttle bus back to Playa Del Carmen but got off a few streets too soon. It wasn’t all bad, we got to check out some more of the local area and found an awesome place for ‘lunch’ called Wichoos. The waitress was the best ever, I so enjoyed her wit. She spoke Spanish to us even though she knew we didn’t understand and I felt that she genuinely enjoyed us being there. They took pictures for their Facebook page of us swinging on our swings, which is where we ate lunch. Low and behold, I had ceviche!!! I still can’t get enough of it. I also had a fish taco and a few beers, great food and really enjoyed the company. Definitely check it out if you’re visiting. 

I also found a great spot to do some shopping. A blanket, hammock and some gifts later I was on my way. 

We changed and took our new friend from the hostel for some beers on the water. There was love music and a chill vibe, definitely a tourist spot. We shared the guacamole. 

About 11pm I was hungry so we wandered a few streets over and found a cheap taco bar. Four fish tacos and a shrimp taco later (two margaritas and some tequila too) I was happy as can be! 

We marched on down to the club strip we found the night before and were taken into a club at the very end with an open bar. They had great music and we danced and danced until 2am. 

I am thinking I might learn Spanish. I really enjoy hearing it and attempting to understand! 

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
 

Playa Del Carmen, Day 2

With our tour booked for Tulum with Easy Tours we were up early & ready to roll. 

What a f#%k around. It took about 2 hours to get to Tulum which should be a 30min trip. We were dropping and picking up people for different tours, swapping guides, stopping for a mandatory ten min stop. 

Everyone on our shuttle was really irratated by the time we got there. Our guide, Roberto, spoke Spanish, English and German. We walked to the ruins, he gave us some quick history and then left us to free time. It was too long and we ended up walking back of our own accord. On the way we passed a couple from our shuttle who had been on an extra hour than we had, hoping in a cab. They didn’t want to deal with that madness on the way back. And neither did we. We asked to be taken back an hour and a half before we were supposed to and to our surprise, they obliged. We had free time at the beach but for the last few months Playa Del Carmen has been plagued with a lot of seaweed. It is impacting their tourism industry. 

We had lunch at a wonderful place on the beachfront. I had a beautifully presented ceviche (there’s a surprise) and a beer. Lots of beer drinking in Mexico. 

Since we had so much of the day left after cutting our tour short we headed over to Cozumel. A return ticket wil cost you $17USD on the ferry. 

We were surprised at how big Cozumel was when we arrived. There’s markets and shops and, wait for it, no seaweed! 

After walking for 20mins we grabbed a can to SkyTree, a newish beach club around the island. $15USD got us our snorkel set, a drink (hello piña colada), a tequila tasting and (should we have made it earlier) a 5 minute massage. 

We grabbed sun loungers and went straight out to snorkel. There isn’t much reef straight out there but it is still very pretty and a few tropical fish meandering about. 

We fell asleep on the sun loungers and were woken when it closed, they had already ordered a cab back to the ferry for us. Wonderful place – I highly recommend visiting. 

After being ripped off by the cab back to the ferry we got back to Playa Del Carmen, found a restaurant and had some cocktails. I had shrimp tacos but they weren’t very good. 

On the way home we passed by a strip next to where we were staying towards the beach and found a bunch of clubs. The guys were fighting over themselves to get us in there, free rounds of cocktails and table service. We tried out three before retiring for the night. 

   

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Las Vegas, Day 3

Massive day. 

We checked out and I went to the Premium Outlets. I was hoping to find a handbag but no luck. I did however, get a few gifts and some new jean shorts to accomodate my ever growing booty. 

I got changed at the hotel and took the Monorail from Bally’s Casino to MGM where the girls were at the Producers Pool. 

We swam and sunbathed then went for dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. I’ve been to one before in Japan, I turn straight into a little kid when I get there! It’s a rainforest theme (obviously) with moving animals, aquariums and a sky which changes moods – anything from sunny to storming. 

I ordered a huge meal, two pieces of tilapia with mango salsa, coconut prawns, scallops in a cheese sauce, fried zucchini and Caribbean rice. Yum!

The girls caught the monorail back while I walked back up the street to soak up the last of Vegas. 

I met these two hilarious guys who were taking a break from their truck ride to have some beers. One drives while the other one sleeps, then they swap. They had me in stitches and walked me back to my hotel. 

Lauren, Nikita and I took a cab to the airport to check in for our flight to Mexico. We had thought it was a long flights and we could just sleep through but as it turned out with the time difference it was only 3hours then a quick break in Mexico City (where we were told 3 different gate numbers for our flight) and it was surprisingly freezing! 

Another two hour flight and we were in Cancun! 

   

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   

Playa Del Carmen, Day 1

After a sleepless night of flying from Vegas via Mexico we arrived into Playa Del Carmen at 10am. 
I had organised for the guy who we rented the AirBnB apartment off to provide transfers from Cancun to Playa. About a 45min drive away. He was very kind and drove very fast. 130km ph when the speed limit was 90km… 

Anyway we get to the apartment which we were super excited about only for him to run around saying this is broken, door is something bla bla it’s all very safe, then leave. A Mexican whirlwind and three very tired and confused girls.

We were so exhausted we all fell straight asleep for 1.5hours. Upon waking up we realised that the apartment really wasn’t what it was like in the pictures. It’s old and worn and it smells. The most worrying of all, was the doors. The back sliding door had previously been broken by guests and he had made a makeshift door… It didn’t reach the roof at one part and had a big crack down the window. You could shake it around easily and it was hard to shut again once we opened it. The front door, we could barely shut and then it was really difficult to lock once you got it shut. It was also in an average area and we did not feel safe. The view was superb and just like the brochure – at least there was one thing.

We got up and walked around, the streets are bustling, hawkers trying to get you into their stores or see their wares. There’s music and colour, a great atmosphere. Oh and it’s bloody hot. Soooo humid. Sweat dripping from errywherrrr. 

We found a fantastic place to eat. Right by the pier to Cozumel, called xxx. I ordered ceviche (my FAVE!!) with a beer. We shared guac which was made fresh at our table – delicious. The ceviche was amazing. I had a mix of fish, octopus and shrimp with tomato, onion and HEAPS of lime. Perfect. The best part about the restaurant though was the fun and hilarious staff. They had great energy and loved making fun of us. One even danced me back to our table and sat on my lap as we sorted the bill. They were great company. 

In the meantime we are all contemplating moving but don’t know what to do as a refund isn’t an option with a cancellation on our booking. We book two days worth of tours which was an incredibly painful experience with a highly inexperienced / very slow guy booking our tours in the searing heat. We were all grumpy again after it. I almost wished I smoked so I could join the girls in some stress relief. Thank goodness we found a pool (‘party’ – there was a DJ) to laze by and swim in to refresh ourselves for a few hours! 

Right across the road we found a lovely hostel so went in to see what the private rooms were like. For only $60USD per night we could book a lovely, clean, inviting room with everything we needed in the centre of town. We decided to think about moving. 

We walked back slowly, Lauren visited Starbucks for a coffee. Nikita and I discussed the situation and decided we felt really uncomfortable at the other place so we would move immediately. Ran the idea past Lauren and she was in. One hitch, a storm had blown in. The sky turned dark, the heavens opened and it pissed down. Thunder cracked and lightening lit up the sky. We just stood there under the umbrellas outside Starbucks watching it. 

Back at the apartment we took photos and called AirBnB. They were wonderful and really understood our situation and started the process to investigate. A few emails later and we were refunded in full. Big thanks to them. Love a good industry disrupter and even more so, one that fixes a bad situation efficiently. 

We raced through the streets (rain had stopped) with our luggage, zig zagging around the tourists. Checked in at the hostel and lay down in our lovely, air conditioned, clean and safe room. We all felt a hell of a lot better after a shower and knowing we were out of the other apartment. 

Fresh and clean we wandered the streets again, this time with fresh eyes and a lot more happy! We found a nice place for dinner where the waiters have definitely been taught to try to up sell our meals. Kinda funny when their English isn’t that great. We shared ceviche (this will be almost all I eat in Mexico, I find it hard to order anything else) and I opted for two entrees so I could try two dishes. We had GIANT margaritas made fresh at our table and had some more fun with the waiter. By then it was 11pm and time for a well deserved sleep. What a day!