way into it
Join Date: Feb 2008
Sailfish, Turtles, Pyramids, Cenotes, and Chilaquiles
Here is a start to our trip report. Mike, Lisa, Kavan(8) and Bradan (6) all went to Playa March 22-31, 2010. My brother Sean also joined us for five days in the middle of our trip.
Some highlights I'll cover from this trip:
-ATMs and fees
-Natz Ti Ha
-Deep sea fishing
-Travelling with kids
Last edited by MIKEandLISA; 04-13-2010 at 07:15 PM..
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way into it
Join Date: Feb 2008
Rolled into Cancun from Minneapolis early afternoon on Monday 3/22. Unfortunately, we left just as the weather started to warm up. The plan was to take the kids down for spring break, but after looking into airfares for the following week, we decided to save the $1200 and go the week earlier.
Cancun is in sight.
Made it through immigration got our five suitcases and got the green light, took less than 45 minutes.
In planning this trip, I did some research on this forum for everything we needed. We have been to Playa many times over the last 12 years and this is the second time with our boys. We booked a rental car from Mexperience.com from the advice from the forum and meet up with the Hertz guy outside the gate. Stopped at the ATM near their counter and pulled out 6000 pesos for $478.63 +$14.36 USD (for an exchange rate of 12.17:1).
The Hertz guys lead us through "the gauntlet" and we were instructed to wait for about 15 minutes for the shuttle. I heard that the Hertz rental office was close to terminal one, so I asked how far it was. He told me not far, maybe 1 KM away...not too appetizing considering we were hauling SCUBA gear, snorkeling stuff, life jackets for the kids, cars seats, and SO much more. We had four rolling suitcases and a duffle bag along with four backpacks. So 15 Mexican minutes later (30+ in US minutes), up comes the van.
Went into the office stood in line and pulled out my paperwork from Mexperience.com indicating that I had a reservation for an automatic Dodge Attitude o similar. After waiting another 15 Mexican minutes, it was my turn at the counter. About 15 more Mexican minutes and using my unique knowledge of Spanglish, found out that the car I reserved wasn't available. We ended up with a new(ish) Dodge Journey with 7000 KM on the odometer. This was actually a pleasant surprise because we had a lot of stuff! The lady at the counter said I needed the minimum insurance in Mexico, I agreed and told her it was prepaid with my reservation and I was using my Visa's card insurance but apparently not the case? She indicated that I needed ALI insurance, the new total was 2037.96 pesos on top of the $160 USD I prepaid. This wasn't overly clear to me as the total she quoted was very close to what I already paid. Oh well, I found out that the ALI insurance was for underinsured motorists (I was hoping this wouldn't interfere with my Visa insurance). 15 more Mexican minutes we were joined with our ride for the next 10 days. While waiting in line again for the car pick up, we were approached by a guy offering us a map. Now being a fairly well traveled person, I have a reluctance to accept anything from anyone because there really isn't anything for free.
I was right! I said no, but my youngest wanted a map like his older brother...so I said "free map, does this come with a time share opportunity??" The guy was fairly pissed off as I called him out in front of the other customers (suckers). He proceeded to tell me that he doesn’t come to my country and mess up my job, you know he is just trying to make a living. Long story short I had him give his map to my son so he was happy. Got the car, inspected the few dings and noted them...
Here is the car at our condo.
The car was 2/8ths full, stopped at a gas station and filled it up. We left our house at 8:00 for a 10:30 flight and only got peanuts on the plane. It was now about 4:30 and everyone was hungry...went in and bought some beers and snacks for the ride to Playa. For those travelling with kids, remember that Cheetos and fiesta Ruffles are spicy. My kids hate spice, but didn't care as they were hungry. Their first Fantas of the trip didn't last long washing down the mild heat.
45 minutes later, we got to Natz ti Ha condos and had the security guy figure out the security code by calling the office. Stayed in D301, nice unit with great views.
Headed to the beach just before dark.
Went next door to La Plumadora for pizzas and brochetta to go.
Then it was pool time for the kids.
Next stop was Mega for groceries, tequila, and beer.
The only thing I know about tequila is that it doesn't taste as good the second time as it comes up. Drank way too much of this in college, but figured since Montana SolMan and Mrs. SolMan enjoyed palomas so much during their drunkumentory...we would need to give them a try as well!
We bought Squirt and tequila at the Mega. I had a hard time deciding on a bottle, but ended up with 100 Años brand for around 100 pesos...turns out not to have been the best pick. My more experienced brother was joining us on Wednesday and was educated on the finer points of tequila...more on that later. After the long day, we sent the kids to bed and enjoyed the balcony with our beers and palomas. Need to get our rest for tomorrow’s big beach day, haircuts and FOOD!...stay tuned.
2010 trip report:
2009 Trip report:
2008 trip report:
Last edited by MIKEandLISA; 04-06-2010 at 11:28 PM..
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada
Great! We have always done the AI thing and will again in a few days. But this is the last year that our youngest is "free" so it will be condo all the way from now on.............still a little nervous about the car rental thing though! I am looking forward to trying a Paloma.........or two or three..........
way into it
Join Date: Feb 2008
Day 2 Beaches, Haircuts, and Food!
This day started off at the pool. The condo unit supplied the pool toys which was nice. We ended up buying 2 fun noodles at Mega for a couple dollars each. Our kids brought their own snorkel gear and life vests. The life vests were originally going to be used for snorkeling, sea fishing and cenote swimming, but the kids liked to wear them at the pool too. Our younger son Bradan who is 6 isn't the best swimmer. Let's just say he sinks. We joked about getting drunk by the pool and not having to worry about our kids drowning. I wonder what the other families at the pool were thinking.
Then off to the new beach. What's up with the 6 foot cliff at the Grand Puerto Real? The new beach is HUGE! Still lots of boats tied up so still not that great of a beach other then lots of room for beach-goers. We planted ourselves on an area of beach with no boats and off the kids went to the water. They loved jumping through the waves and building sand pyramids. My wife and I downed XX's and soaked up the sun. For those of you who have never traveled to Playa with small kids, the beach is all the entertainment they need.
We stopped for lunch on the beach at El Pirata. This is a great place to go with kids who don't care for Mexican food too much. They had chicken tenders, hamburgers and other American familiar foods, plus great tacos and guacamole. We had a bucket of beers and the kids had lemonade. El Pirata also is home to a couple parrots which the kids thought was neat and of coarse we had to get a photo on the bar swings. Last year we stopped here for drinks and remember the water being about 20 steps away from the tables with walking traffic just a few steps away. As you can see in the first photo, this beach has changed dramatically.
After a full day at the pool and beach we were ready to get cleaned up and head out to 5th Ave.
Checked the forum and there was free ice cream at Ben and Jerry's. When we got there we found out they weren't giving out free ice cream anymore but there was a waiter from Senor Frogs who was gathering several cups of ice cream for himself and his coworkers. I politely asked in Spanglish if we could have some free ice cream. I think the Senor Frogs guy felt sorry for our kids, who must have had disappointing looks on their faces, because he generously gave 1 of his ice cream cups to us. The local people of Playa are genuinly nice people. Later that night we stopped at another Ben and Jerry's on 5th and got free ice cream again.
The boys and I planned on finding a local barber and getting haircuts, which I heard from the forum, are cheap here. So I asked someone where we could find a local place to get haircuts and they told us across from the Mega above the pharmacia. Sure enough, there it was! The people here didn't speak any English so it was fun trying to communicate with them about how we wanted our haircuts. It took about 1/2 hour for the kids haircuts, which was the longest it's ever taken to cut our children's hair. But I have to admit I think it was the best haircut they've ever had. I recieved some product in my hair called Ultra Wet, paid the gentlemen 180 pesos and then were off to find dinner.
Since our kids haven't become huge fans of Mexican food quite yet, we headed across the street to the Mega for some kid friendly food - pizza.
We started walking down the street and were drawn to the smell of grilled carne. One of our favorite places, El Fagon. The kids were drinking their fanta orange sodas and we were all entertained by the giant wheel of meat with a pinapple on top and watching the man carve and toss together tacos.
Then off to 5th Ave for some shopping. The kids had their own pesos and wanted to buy a souviner. At the back of the Tequila shop store was a "tequila factory" which made for some funny photos. The kids both ended up getting bobble heads, one of many to add to their collection. These are those quirky wooden animals with the head that bobbles up and down; a dime a dozen in Playa souviner shops. No haggling on this shopping trip. There will be plenty more opportunities to bargain for cheap touristy junk later.
Stay tuned, tomorrow is Garden of Eating, Tulum beaches, sand fleas, uncle Sean's arrival, HC Super Carnes, and cotton candy!
Last edited by MIKEandLISA; 04-06-2010 at 10:19 PM..