Join Date: May 2010
Location: Small Town, IL
Our trip to Cancun….errrrr make that PDC.
May 29 – June 1, 2010
So, this trip started out like any other…the cold weather vacation bug bit my butt in late January, and I started dreaming up places for my boyfriend (Dustin) and I to go. Normally, our yearly trip would be to head to Vegas for a long weekend, but we had recently gotten back from our first trip to Mexico and the Riviera Maya in December. We had stayed at the Iberostar Paraiso Beach AI with my family and had a short day trip to walk La Quinta and the beach in PDC. I was hooked. I knew right away that I wanted to head back to Mexico if possible.
Now…the boring details:
The “Who”: Dustin and I - my daughter was heading to Michigan with her grandma.
The “When”: Dustin can’t get off of work easily, so I usually have to plan trips around a holiday long weekend and then maybe tack an extra day on. (which stinks because the holiday usually means higher rates to get anywhere) The last couple of years, the Memorial Day weekend has been our time and it was shaping up to be that way again.
The “Where”: I’m definitely the trip planner in the relationship. I do the research, read the reviews, whittle down the list and then present my findings in a condensed form to Dustin for a final review. He’s pretty easy going though so I think as long as it had a bed, a beach and beer; he would’ve been up for it. I’d like to say “we” came to the decision to book an AI in Cancun, but honestly “I” decided it and then explained my reasoning to Dustin. “It was going to be a short trip so this way we wouldn’t have all the travel time to and from the airport. Our hotel was a short 15 minutes away. Plus, we had never stayed in Cancun, so it’d be somewhere different to explore. It’d be AI so we wouldn’t have to worry about $$” Blah blah blah…finally, we booked at Barcelo Costa.
Whoa whoa whoa…hit the brakes …are you asking yourself why this TR is in the Playa Del Carmen forum? Well… keep reading…you’ll find out.
So, now we had to wait. The closer we got to vacation time, the more time I spent looking at google maps, reading trip advisor for restaurant reviews, figuring out where we might want to go, etc. Also, I occasionally would go to playa.info to look at the beach webcam and drool.
I had originally started reading the forum when all of the beach reconstruction was going on. I went back to that thread almost every day to check out the pics of the pipes across the beach, the sand pumping in, and the beach getting huge! It wasn’t until early May that I actually checked out other threads on the forum…and I found the trip reports. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all about people’s trips to PDC, checking out where they stayed, what they ate, what to do or not do, etc. Then I started thinking of our AI, the junky buffets with no “real” Mexican food on them, the limited beach we had to walk on, being on a strip of huge resorts and feeling trapped. I was starting to wish I had booked in PDC, what was a 40 min extra ride anyway??? I kept reading the TR’s and shared some of the funny ones with Dustin (ie. The “Drinkumentary”) and the “newbie” informative (ie. JG & TG’s trip reports) and the food focused (ie. Jimontheriver’s Never on 5th). He enjoyed looking at them and would constantly point out a bar or a restaurant and say “Let’s go there!” and I would reply every time, “We aren’t staying in Playa this time.” And he would say “Oh yah…”
So, Friday May 21st - 8 days before our trip – I had a wonderful light bulb go off over my head. I said to myself, “Self, why can’t we go to Playa?” Now, I knew Dustin was going to send me to the insane asylum on this one, so I wanted to have all my details in order before I even presented him with the idea. First, I made sure that I would not get dinged on cancelling at the AI. I had purchased trip insurance through Expedia and the hotel did not charge a cancellation fee as long as you gave at least 48 hours notice…good to go. Second, I needed a place to stay that was going to be cheaper than the AI since we now had to account for some food and drink money to be spent. I checked out the Luna Blue website (honestly, because of JG/TG’s trip reports and that they had stayed there several times). Wow! Rooms as low as $49 a night! I couldn’t believe that…but would they have one available on this short notice?? A quick email to the Luna Blue and I had an answer…several rooms were available on our days. Third, I needed a ride to PDC. Because of all these TR’s, I knew all about the bus, where to catch it, what it looked like and it’s schedule. Also, Luna Blue said they would arrange a shuttle if we wanted to/from the airport. (I was keeping this as an option in case Dustin wasn’t sure about the bus idea).
Everything seemed to be very do-able. Now, for the hard part…I’ll admit I was nervous as I texted Dustin at work even though he should be used to my crazy ideas and plans by now.
Me: Let’s cancel our cunie hotel and bus it down to Playa instead.
Him: Ha. No way dude.
Me: Where’s your sense of adventure, senor?
Him: (no reply)
Me: Luna blue hotel. Pretty cheap. Downtown Playa. Eh eh?
Him: No lover.
Me: Not even maybe?
Him: Noper. Love you!
Me: You’re killing my buzz lover. Love you!
Me again (later): Best room at luna blue, 79 a night. Bus to playa, 10 per person. Mamitas beach club chairs and umbrellas, free. Yummy Mexican food, priceless!
Him: (no reply, again)
Now, some of you may think that a text is not the best way to share this information, but I knew Dustin would need time to process this. So, I kind of slipped it in there and then let him think on it the rest of the afternoon until we got home from work.
While we ran around the kitchen preparing dinner that night, he let me know that he didn’t like the idea of changing hotels because we had already gotten “pumped up” for the AI and the Cancun area with all the research I had been showing him. So, I laid out the plan : how much we’d get refunded from Expedia, Luna Blue did have rooms available and how much they were going to cost, how much the shuttle vs. the bus was going to cost, how much leftover cash we’d have to spend towards food and drinks, the differences between Luna Blue and Barcelo Costa, how we’d be able to walk the beach and town and not feel trapped, etc. I’m glad I had prepped before telling him about my idea, because I was ready for any question he had and I think he realized how serious I was about changing our vacation to Playa Del Carmen.
After dinner, we sat down at my computer and I showed him the Luna Blue website, where it was on a map, and some of the beach clubs we would have access to. He was sold on the idea in less than an hour. He was less than thrilled about the idea of riding the bus to Playa as he was picturing it as an old rundown school bus. I showed him photos of the bus (thanks to all your TR’s) but he still put his foot down for the shuttle. Oh well, I could live with that.
The next morning, 7 days before our trip to our Cancun AI, I called Expedia, cancelled the AI and filled out the reservation form online for the Luna Blue. Within the next couple of hours and a few emails back and forth, we had our room and shuttle booked! We were heading to Playa!!!
Dec 2009 - Riviera Maya - Iberostar Paraiso Beach (first trip to Mexico)
May 2010 - Playa Del Carmen - Luna Blue TRIP REPORT
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way into it
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Western N Carolina
What a great start! Can't wait to read more......
Dustin is just like my husband......I do *all* the planning, only my husband says to me he'll go anywhere long as it's AI! Sheesh
But this time next week we'll be in Playa, so it will be wonderful I'm sure!
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Cumming, GA
My kind of woman.....makes up her mind and goes for it. Good for you! The Luna Blue is a great little place, just a short walk from everything. Great atmosphere to sit out at the bar and listen to some fine tunes from Chris B. and other musicians.
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Small Town, IL
So much time, so little to do…wait, strike that…reverse it.
All week long I listened to my Johnny Spanish podcasts to brush up on some Spanish phrases that I wanted to remember. I figured I was going to need to know a lot more Spanish off the AI and I was a little nervous about muddling through a conversation. I took four years of Spanish in high school, but unfortunately back then I was too dumb to realize that I should really try to LEARN the language and not just get through it for an A or B grade.
Also, I poured over all the trip reports and took notes on places I would like to visit. I printed out the restaurant guide, JG’s Newbie tips and a decent map of Playa from Wicky’s website. I combined all my newly discovered knowledge and created my own personal map of Playa. I labeled beach clubs that I would have access to with Luna Blue free passes. I labeled restaurants and bars. I made notes on meal/drink deals and where to see live music. And, don’t forget the hotel so we would know how to get back home at the end of the night. Also, I decided to make an extra color copy of my map, just in case anything unfortunate should happen to the original. I probably should have laminated it, but I didn’t go that far.
Here’s my map:
Friday – almost time!!
So, someone hit the “slow motion” switch at work again and it felt like 16 hours of work instead of 8. But, at last, it was time to get this party started! I headed over to Dustin’s work to meet up with him, and we were off!
Thumbs up all around!!
I knew we were getting close to Ohare when the planes were taking off right over our heads.
By about 6:30 pm, we had arrived at the first destination on this trip, Ohare Inn & Suites. This was our first trial at a Park, Sleep and Fly. We decided to try it because on our last trip that had an early morning flight, we had been up at 2 am to get ready and it really took a toll on our first day because we were so exhausted when we had arrived. I booked this place because it was about 15 minutes from the airport and I thought it was a very good price! Only $82 including tax for the room and up to 7 days of parking for our vehicle. We needed to sign up for a shuttle time in the office and we had a choice of 4:45 or 5:30 am. Normally, I would rather be at the airport earlier, but we decided on the 5:30 pickup for our 8:25 flight. I was hoping I didn’t regret that decision in the morning.
Got checked in and up to our room….ahhhh finally time to relax!
I gave Dustin a pre-vacation present…waterproof containers for our money. He had been talking about buying one ever since our last trip because when we were by the water, we were always worried and looking up towards our chairs/bags to keep an eye on our stuff. Now, we could carry our cash with us! He was pretty excited about these, and though I didn’t expect too much from them, our money never got a drop of water on it.
For the rest of the evening, we just relaxed in the room and headed to bed early (around 9pm). The alarm was set for 4:15am. Still early, but not as bad as 2 am if we had stayed at home.
Visions of Playa danced through our heads…..
Last edited by fiskdeanna; 06-04-2010 at 10:22 AM..
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Small Town, IL
Have a great trip in Playa! I know you will!
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Small Town, IL
It’s VACATION time!
We woke up at 4:15am. I didn’t sleep the greatest, but mostly due to excitement! Showered, packed up and headed down to the lobby at about 5:15am.
The lounge area had complimentary coffee, cereals and cracker packs. While we waited for our shuttle, we enjoyed a cup of coffee and I stashed some cracker and cookie packs in the backpack for the flight.
I took a picture of these fake palm trees in the lounge because I knew in a few hours we’d be seeing the real deal!
Our shuttle arrived right on time. We loaded up and were heading out of the parking lot by 5:31am. We arrived at Ohare and were dropped off by 5:38am. Nice!
(In hindsight, the only problem I had with Ohare Inn and Suites was that no one told us the procedure for catching the shuttle back to the hotel after our trip. I had to ask our driver when he was about to leave and then he just told us to call when we arrived. I guess I was expecting him to hand us a card with the number, instructions, etc. He didn’t, but luckily, the night before, I had found just such a card in our room, stuffed in the “nearby restaurants” folder. I’m glad I had thought to grab it then, because I would have had no idea what the hotel phone number was.)
We walked into the international terminal of the airport and Mexicana had the longest line! Whoa! The queue line was completely filled and we were waaayyy out in the airport walkway lined up.
We quickly realized that the line was so long because they weren’t any ticket agents working at Mexicana yet. Thank goodness we had not signed up for that earlier shuttle or we would have just been standing in line waiting for longer!
At 6 am, the Mexicana workers emerged from the back room. Some people who were further up in the line told us that they could see them all back there enjoying their morning coffees. At least I know not to get there before 6 am now!
I’m happy to see the ticket agents…let’s get moving!
We had the earliest Mexicana flight at 8:25. I just kept thinking while we were waiting for the agents to start that they must have confidence that they can move that many people through the line in order to get them on their flights on time. However, shortly after the lines opened, everyone for our early flight was ushered into a different line. I guess they wanted to make sure we could get through on time. We had our boarding passes by 6:13am.
We stopped before going through security to get something to eat. The lady told us that once we went through, there was no food on the other side! Wow, that’s different from what I am used to. Here’s the first foodie pic of the TR – our gourmet breakfast!
After our bellies were full, we breezed through security, and headed off to gate M6. Our plane was already there. We settled in and Dustin played some games on his phone to pass the time.
Before we knew it, we were boarding the plane! Whoo hoo! The flight was not full and we even had the seat next to us empty…that was nice as I was able to stretch out and try to snooze. We departed on time and we were off…heading full speed to paradise!
Shortly into the flight, they announced that our drink and meal service would begin shortly. What? Are my ears clogged already? Did they just say meal service? Did we time warp back to the 90’s? No, I could smell the food when the carts whizzed by me up to the front of the plane. Wow…free food and free drinks (even alcoholic) on a plane ride…this was amazing. We took full advantage!
Our omelets, rolls & cookies: When the flight attendant (with a Spanish accent) offered us our options, I heard it as “grapes” or “a meal”…but when Dustin asked for “a meal”, she kept repeating herself, “No, grapes or ahmealet”. Duh, she was saying Omelet. And, I think what I kept hearing as “grapes” may have been “eggs” but I still don’t know for sure. I was getting very nervous about trying to speak to people in PDC now!
First official drinks of the trip: Tecate & Bloody Mary (for free!!) Dustin says now that he didn’t realize it was only 9am when he ordered the Tecate, but I’m sure that wouldn’t have stopped him even if he had known!
And, then I unfolded my napkin, and voila! – Soduku – a little in-flight entertainment!
A short 3+ hours later, we were heading into Cancun.
Yay! We were very happy to be in Mexico!
We spent about 5 minutes waiting to arrive at out gate. Or, so I thought. As we waited patiently to exit the airplane, I saw an awful lot of sunlight when we got closer to the door. What! No way. We were parked in the middle of the tarmac and we were actually unloading down a set of stairs – not down the little corridor into the terminal. I swear, I only ever see this happen in the movies! I remember doing it when I was very little – like maybe 5 – but never since. I got a huge kick out of this and made Dustin take lots of pictures while we exited the plane and got on the bus they had waiting for us.
We were bussed over to the terminal and made it through customs and immigration pretty quickly. Dustin and I both got the green light – high fives and smiles all around! – because on our December trip, we had both gotten the red light! I had a slight panic when we exited and I couldn’t find the ATM that a lot of people had mentioned on the forum. We looked all around (but I was too shy to ask) and Dustin kept assuring me that we could just find one in Playa when we got there. I think that possibly we had been in a different terminal than the one where the ATM was mentioned???
Okay, keep moving through the sharks, and head towards the bright sunshine and warmth! Ahhhhh yes! Now we have truly arrived….
Last edited by fiskdeanna; 06-04-2010 at 03:25 PM..