Tag Archives: tourism

Loud Americans

2 Apr

During yet another trip to The Surfin Burrito in the Cancun Hotel Zone this past Saturday, I was listening in on the conversation of the 2 tables next to us. Why was I listening in, you ask? Because they were speaking so loudly I had no choice. Of course, they had to be gringos.

In Cancun, American tourists have a reputation for being loud. I’m here to tell you that this stereotype is pretty much dead on, to an extent.

When I hop on the bus to go into the Hotel Zone, it’s filled with mostly Mexicans for awhile… and the bus is silent. Once the bus leaves downtown Cancun and enters the Hotel Zone, tourists start to get on. And the volume level goes way up. I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty amusing to see dozens of Mexicans sitting quietly in their seats on their way to work while my fellow gringos scream things like “WALMART??”, “DUDE! STEVE WAS SO WASTED LAST NIGHT!”  or “HILTON? HIL-TON? YES? SI? YOU LET ME KNOW! OK! GRACIAS!”

I even heard one guy shout aloud on the bus, asking in all seriousness where the bus stop for “COKER BONGER” was. Jorge and I assume he meant to say Coco Bongo.

What I’ve noticed after 7 years here is that most American tourists are low-key when in public, so the stereotype isn’t 100% true. However, I’ve also never seen anyone from another country act that loudly unless they’re at a party or a sporting event.

In a nutshell: Not all American tourists are loud, but all loud tourists are American.

It’s not a bad thing or an offensive thing to be loud in public. (Especially not in Cancun!) It is pretty funny to watch, though.

What kind of tourist are you?

**Edit: After posting this, I’ve been told by a few friends that it’s not just Americans. Turns out Canadians can get quite rowdy as well. 😉 Party on, Canada. Party on.

Why I Love Cancun’s Plaza La Isla

31 Dec

Sometimes when you live in a beautiful tourist destination like Cancun, it’s easy to get sucked into everyday life. Even though I’m just minutes away from some of the world’s best beaches and most incredible All Inclusive resorts, I often forget there’s more to life than wake up, go to work, go to the gym, watch TV, sleep, repeat.

So when I really want to feel like a tourist in Cancun, there’s one perfect place that’s just a cheap bus ride away: Plaza La Isla.

Plaza La Isla is a beautiful outdoor mall set in the middle of the Hotel Zone, complete with charming canals, luxury boutiques, inexpensive brands, high-end department stores, fast food, fun restaurant and upscale dining. It’s unbeatable location right on the lagoon makes it the perfect spot for a romantic evening.

One thing I love about Plaza La Isla is the fountains, which always manage to draw in a crowd! Everyone oohs and aahs over the jumping water fountain, while kids can be seen running through the ground fountain by the lagoon.

See? Kids can't help themselves 🙂

So many of my best Cancun memories have been in Plaza La Isla: margaritas with my sister, dinners at Thai Lounge, a quincenera party at Planet Hollywood, tons of photo ops by the fountain, shopping at Guess (my favorite), root beers at Johnny Rockett’s, petting a shark, panoramic views of the Hotel Zone from the top of the parking deck, and of course… Jorge proposing to me by the lagoon.

Next time you’re in Cancun, make sure to visit this beautiful outdoor mall. I recomend arriving around 4 pm so you can see it in the daylight, at sunset and in the evening.

View of the Hotel Zone across the lagoon

What’s your favorite place to shop in your city?

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

The Fairmont Mayakoba Resort Goes Green

21 Dec

Set in the Riviera Maya just north of Playa del Carmen, the beautiful Fairmont Mayakoba forms part of the Mayakoba Resort, which just won the prestigious Ulysses Award from the United Nations World Tourism Organization, one of the world’s top recognitions for ecotourism development.

The Fairmont Mayakoba’s green iniciatives are seemingly endless, focusing not only on preserving their natural environment, but going several steps further to actually help it grow and form new, biodiverse ecosystems.

The winding canals found throughout the resort were formed utilizing the underground rivers and cenotes already existing on the property, creating several miles of soft current where guests can enjoy boat tours in lanchas to see the local birds, fish and ecosystems. By forming these canals, the resort has managed to maintain much of the pre-existing wildlife while also providing a beautiful home for hundreds of new species.

The Fairmont Mayakoba’s Green Partnership Program incorporates sustainable ecotravel concepts into all areas of the hotel:

  • Eco-Meet program, minimizing the ecological footprint for groups and conventions
  • Nature tours and adventure tourism at the nearby Sian Ka’anBiosphere Reserve
  • Greening Our Greens program for wildlife conservation on El Cameleon Golf Course
  • Green Cuisine, using fair-trade, sustainable, local and organic food products whenever possible (specializing in local Mayan communities and on-site gardens)
  • Alliance with the Climate Savers Program from World Wildlife Fund to cut down on CO2 emissions
  • Energy and Water Conservation projects in staff areas, public areas and guestrooms
  • Flora and Fauna Conservation with plant relocation, a turtle aquarium, and more
  • Waste Management projects with recycling, biodegradable products and composting of organic materials

Rose Spoonbill (apologies for the blurriness, he was too quick to catch on camera!)

In addition to their green iniciatives, the Fairmont Mayakoba also works closely with the community, aligning themselves with local universities, Mayan communities and programs for children.

This year, the resort is working hand-in-hand with the U’yo’olche non-profit organization with Pack For A Purpose. During the month of December, guests at the resort can participate in this iniciative by packing toys and gifts for Three Kings Day, a Latin American children’s holiday celebrated on January 6th. Gifts will be given out to local Mayan communities so children can wake up on January 6th to much-loved presents. For more information on how you can help, follow through here:

Pack For A Purpose

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

A Walk Along Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen

12 Dec

The past month has been one of my favorites since I moved to Mexico over 6 years ago. For three weekends in a row, we found great excuses to make the 1-hour drive from Cancun to Playa del Carmen. First we went to the Taste of Playa Food Festival, then the next weekend to the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival, then last weekend just to hang out! Because who doesn’t want to wake up to this…

The most famous area of Playa del Carmen is Fifth Avenue (or “La Quinta”, as the locals call it), a pedestrian street that runs parallel to the beach. All along this avenue, you’ll find charming hotels, tons of restaurants, boutique shops, local artisanry, beautiful cafes and chic nightclubs right on the beach.

Coco Maya Beach and Night Club

A predominantly European destination, Playa del Carmen’s Fifth Avenue is ideal for people-watching. You’ll see everything from luxury travelers to backpackers all on one unique street.

My personal favorite part of Fifth Avenue is a small off-street called “Calle Corazon” (Heart Street). Calle Corazon is filled with twinkle lights, cafes and art galleries, and I lose myself in its magical atmosphere every time I walk by.

Calle Corazon

 

From Fifth Avenue, it’s just a one-block stroll down to the stunning Caribbean beach, where travelers can indulge in enticing meals right on the sand at oceanfront palapa restaurants. But to be honest, sometimes we don’t even make it to the beach! Our favorite thing to do is to simply walk up and down Fifth Avenue and talk about how much we want to move to Playa del Carmen.

"Jellyfish Lanterns"

What’s your favorite travel destination?

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Honeymoon in Rio de Janeiro: Botanical Garden

9 Dec

Moving on with the Rio de Janeiro posts (it’s been awhile)…

On the third morning of our trip, Jorge and I spent about an hour trying to figure out which was the correct bus to get to the Botanical Garden. After getting several different answers from several different people while trying to find out which one-way street was correct, we were finally on our way!

We passed through Ipanema and the uber-fabulous neighborhood of Leblon. I knew we’d arrived at the Botanical Garden when I saw several lines of the tallest palm trees I’ve ever seen just off to my left. (Palm trees don’t get that tall here in Cancun, aka Hurrican Territory!)

Here are the pictures! It only cost a few dollars per person, and it was a great way to spend a few hours:

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Honeymoon in Rio de Janeiro: Ipanema Beach

24 Nov

Moving along with the honeymoon posts, today I’ll write about my favorite part of Rio de Janeiro: Ipanema.

You may remember we stayed in the Copacabana district, which was lovely, but on the 3rd day of our trip we finally made it to the neighboring beach neighborhood of Ipanema. Once we discovered it, we’d spent hours on the remaining days of our trip just wandering around the streets and beach of Ipanema, just a 20 minute walk from our Copacabana apartment. It has a very cool vibe, with lots of surfers, beautiful views and endless restaurants to choose from. Ipanema is the perfect place to just… be.

If we ever make it back to Rio, we’re definitely staying in Ipanema!

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Note: I know I’ve been using the slideshow feature a lot lately. Personally I like it better for posts with lots of photos, but if you have a hard time seeing it please let me know and I’ll be sure to use regular format in the future.

Honeymoon in Rio de Janeiro: Sugarloaf Mountain

17 Nov

I hope you’re excited, because I have more Rio de Janeiro photos headed your way!

On the second evening of our trip, Jorge and I made our way via taxi to see Rio’s famous Sugarloaf mountain.

This view is from the Christ the Redeemer platform. The Sugarloaf is the tall hill set on the center peninsula.

To get to the top of the Sugarloaf, you take two aerial trams from the downtown Sugarloaf station. First you’ll be taken to a lower hill called Cara de Cao with great views of the downtown area and the bay, then the second tram takes you up to twice the height at the top of the Sugarloaf. Jorge was scared to death of the tram before we went, but I think once we were on it he was fine.

A tram leaving the downtown station to the first hill (Cara de Cao), with the higher Sugarloaf in the right background.

View from the tram at the top of Cara de Cao, looking down on the station

CARA DE CAO HILL

The first hill, Cara de Cao, might have been my favorite of the two mountains, even if it’s not nearly as tall as the Sugarloaf. It has more space and is less crowded, and the cafe is a heck of a lot cheaper!

Sagui monkeys on Cara de Cao hill... ugliest. animals. ever. But boy, do they put on a show!

View of downtown Rio from Cara de Cao Hill

Yours Truly with Jorge on Cara de Cao Hill, with the Sugarloaf Mountain in the background

SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN

After playing with the scary monkeys for a bit and taking some pictures, we took the second tram to the top of the Sugarloaf.

Looking down on Rio from the Sugarloaf tram station

The top of the Sugarloaf was pretty crowded around sunset, but we managed to find a few more secluded areas for taking pictures and enjoying the views. We also explored some hiking paths going through the woods! I was surprised that they could pack so much onto the top of such a narrow mountain.

View of Rio's "Zona Sul" (South Zone). The super-long stretch of beach you see just beyond the ridge of hills is Copacabana, where we stayed.

Looking out onto the bay and downtown Rio

I love this picture, even though my eyes are closed! I seriously need to get this Photoshopped...

EVENING…

After some pictures and fighting the crowds at the top of the Sugarloaf, we made our way back down to Cara de Cao. Apparently we were on the “party tram” back down because there was a lot of screaming and excitement from a group of Brazilian college students.

We stopped by the cafe for some very, very tiny cups of hot cocoa and paninis, then sat down on some loungers to enjoy the sunset.

Dusk over downtown Rio de Janeiro

Yes, that's Christ the Redeemer in the background.

The trip to Sugarloaf was my second favorite part of the trip. I’ll tell you about my favorite part in a few days… Ipanema Beach!

 

 

I Got “Steeped” at the Fairmont Mayakoba

14 Nov

Saturday evening, Jorge and I were invited by PR Director Paulina Feltrin to visit the incredible Fairmont Mayakoba resort in the Riviera Maya for something I have never done before… a tea tasting! On November 12, the Fairmont chain hosted different “Get Steeped” events throughout all their international hotels and resorts, offering everything from cultural events to “tea-quila” drinks.

At the Fairmont Mayakoba, we got to enjoy some unique yet delicious Berry Berry Tea Martinis.

The resort’s resident tea and tequila expert, Jesus, explained to us about the Fairmont’s popular line of teas, offering a variety of delicious infusions ranging from traditional Earl Greys to modern fruit flavors.

Jesus mixed each drink with the following recipe:

  • Fairmont’s Berry Berry infusion tea, with dried hibiscus flower (popular in Mexico), raisins, berries and herbs
  • A generous portion of vodka
  • A dash of Xtabentun liqueur, a traditional anise from the Yucatan

All these ingredients combined to create a strong, flavorful and very Mexican tea martini!

I even got the chance to mix my own, which Jesus said was even better than his (Maybe he was just trying to butter me up, but it worked). I learned that the best way to steep tea is by scooping the mixture directly into the water, NOT with a tea bag! Also, you need 20 – 30 shakes to mix a martini. Considering I’ve never mixed a drink in my life, I was pretty pleased with myself.

The final product was quite beautiful, with the alcoholic Berry Berry Tea Martini sporting a lovely pink color and the non-alcoholic martini with a deep purple tone.

I’ve never been much of a tea drinker, but after the tea tasting at the Fairmont Mayakoba resort I just might have to turn these tea martinis into a bad habit!

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Rio de Janeiro Honeymoon: Christ the Redeemer

14 Nov

 

On Thursday morning of our trip to Rio, we got to see the famous Christ the Redeemer statue. I’d read on Trip Advisor that you should go as soon as they open (8:30 am) to avoid crowds, otherwise you could be waiting several hours just to buy a ticket for the train up the Corcovado mountain.

So we took a bus from Copacabana very early and got there about 8:45 am… absolutely nobody there, except a few people who were on the bus with us.

the "line" for tickets 😛

Even though we didn’t have to wait in line, a decent crowd with several large groups had arrived by the time we got onto the train a few minutes later. The train takes maybe half an hour to go all the way up the mountain, and there are tons of amazing lookout points along the way. If you ever go, I recommend sitting in the seats facing backwards for the best view.

Jorge falls asleep after 5 minutes in any form of transportation. I envy him.

When we got to the top, it was pretty chilly. I remember stepping off the elevator and looking up at the back of the Christ the Redeemer statue and almost crying in awe. We were at the top of the world looking at one of Brazil’s most impressive monuments. There was a small crowd there that got steadily larger over the next hour or two (glad we went early!), and we spent our time enjoying the views and taking pictures.

lots of hang gliders that morning!

Once we were done taking pictures, Jorge and I went down to the cafe for a coffee. Once we saw a simple coffee was ridiculously expensive, we just pulled some apples out of our backpack and sat down to enjoy the view.

I know I live in a big tourist destination and I can spot a tourist trap from thousands of miles away, (Ok, pretty much our entire trip was uber touristy) but I don’t care. Our morning at Christ the Redeemer was one of the best mornings of my life. Absolutely amazing.

Where I´m At…

6 Nov

Well here we are, safe and sound back in lovely Cancun, Mexico after a fabulous, worry free honeymoon in Rio de Janeiro!

Oh WAIT…

That´s what I would be saying in an alternative universe where Jorge and I didnt miss our flight!

I wont tell the long story because… well… lets not go there.

Short version: We slept in this morning and missed our flight. Unless we can squeeze into an already full flight leaving tomorrow morning on the waiting list, we might have to pay a very large amount of money to fly back home. (Also, its difficult to communicate with anybody when its 9 am and youre in a time zone 4 hours ahead of the people who can help you.)

Luckily the apartment we were renting is still available tonight, so we came back to Copacabana and just woke up from a nice, long nap! We´re by the beach and the weather is amazing, but we just dont feel like doing anything after the morning we had.

This will hopefully be the last time you ever hear me complain about an extended vacation. Boo.

On a more pleasant note, up until this point it has been one of the best weeks of my life! Cant wait to tell you all about it when Im on the right continent.

Peace out