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Old 08-03-2013   #1 (permalink)
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Payback time...AKFishers March 2013

I've been reading/devouring trip reports since before my first Playa trip in 2009. I'm thinking that it's time to pay my dues with a trip report of my own! While it is a little late in coming - our last trip was in March - I thought this is a good way to share with you all, and to ease the pain of waiting until my next trip. Its a two-fer.

My trip begins like some of yours - stalking the travel forums for weeks or months. The anticipation builds to a fever pitch in the days before departure. The day I actually leave, I think: ďTODAY!Ē Silly me, I still have to go to work, and the flight is at midnight But still, it is THIS DAY!!!


Even if it was 5 months ago, I still remember that feeling.

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Old 08-03-2013   #2 (permalink)
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We have a membership with Royal Holiday so we will try out their Grand Park Royal Caribe in Cancun for a few days, spend a week at Park Royal Cozumel (which we love), and then a week at Club Yebo in Playa Del Carmen..


It’s a lot of moving around, but we pack light. Each of us only has a carry-on size suitcase. Mr. AKFisher, well-known for his generosity, usually donates half of his packing space to me. Sweet man - he COULD get away with just a backpack.


I already packed 2 weeks ahead of time, and but I’m still ticking off things in my mental checklist...notify credit card company, get cash, which books to read...and on and on.

BTW...I took excellent notes early on in the trip. That was at the resort. When I got to Playa, it was a blur.


Flying over the Gulf of Mexico I could see all of the white caps on the ocean. The sky was blue at first, but ahead was a wall of clouds as far as the eye could see. We landed in Cancun and the sky was a gloomy grey. But that didn’t bother me. As I got off the plane, I smelled that familiar warm, tropical smell. A little musty, a faint hint of decay, combined with airport odors like hot tarmac. That scent always welcomes me and says “you’ve arrived!”

The airport was busy, but we only waited about 30 minutes in immigration. Customs was even faster, the line moved so quickly I barely had time to stop and tie a loose shoelace. I am expecting the red light, but it is green again! 10 for 10.


After we head through the glass doors to the gauntlet, we plan on shooting straight through to the last exit. The plan worked until almost the end.

I spotted 2 guys (aka sharks) in their white shirts and name tags looking directly at us while they made their own plan. Their heads leaned in towards each other while one whispered to the other and pointed across the hall, eyes on us the whole time. They split up and came at us from both sides.

Tough luck buddies, there will be no meal for you! No gracias and we are clear.


I planned on Playa being the last portion of the trip so we could get out and enjoy the town after spending the first part of our vacation being lazy and decadent. Our routine at the all-inclusive is this: wake up, shower, go to breakfast, enjoy lounging, go to lunch, walk on beach or use gym (yeah, right), enjoy lounging, go to dinner, have a nightcap at lobby bar, go to bed.

Rinse and repeat.

This is interspersed with drinks and the occasional activity. So I’ll spare you the daily blow-by-blow of our schedule.
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Old 08-03-2013   #3 (permalink)
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The services staff was amazing. We didnít want for anything. For an all-inclusive the food is pretty good. Sometimes even great. We went to the buffet for dinner the first night. There is a different theme each night, and tonight is Spanish night. Tapas in the appetizer section. I had bruschetta topped with a creamy cheese and prosciutto, some green and black olives, and carpaccio.

Wait Ė isnít that all Italian? I donít know, I havenít had tapas before. The highlight was the paella. It was a little light on the protein, but the saffron really came through. I had a red wine that was...drinkable. After dinner I asked for coffee with Kahlua and brandy. I received a cup of coffee and two little snifters each with a hefty shot of liquor. I shrugged and dumped them both in the coffee. Iím on vacation, after all.


At most of these royal holiday locations, all the bars serve drinks in disposable cups outdoors, and the inside bar uses cheap plastic cups. This lobby bar uses glass. I had a cosmopolitan.







Okay, maybe I had several.





Jon had something called a tequila sunset that was tasty, not too sweet.



I think I detected a hint of almond? The bartenders at the lobby bar make excellent drinks.



Other nights I had chocolate martinis, my dessert.

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Old 08-03-2013   #4 (permalink)
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It was really windy while we were here. One night after dinner we went to check out the rooftop bar. It looks inviting, with sofas for lounging and soft lighting. But it was COLD. We took our drinks with us and made a quick escape from the whipping wind. Most days nobody got in the pool due to the cool weather. You can see the waves in the pool from the wind. Some people lounged around the pool, wrapped in towels. We took long walks on the beach, although at times the wind drove sand into us like a sandblaster. I can remember the sand stinging like little bites.






Sometimes it looked a little ominous, but I don't recall much rain. Just lots of wind.




We tried hanging out at the roof top bar one night. Did I mention it was COLD?



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Old 08-03-2013   #5 (permalink)
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This was the pool in the middle of the afternoon. No people, just white caps. Well, almost.


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Old 08-03-2013   #6 (permalink)
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Our room was very pretty.




They called it an "indoor balcony" Nice marketing.




Stairs to upper balcony








Cute Upper balcony. We didn't even use it because of the wind. Long enough to take some pics



Plunge pool - but it too COLD to use it

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Old 08-03-2013   #7 (permalink)
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Wi-Fi used to be available for free in the lobby at Park Royals, but no more. $10 for one hour, $16 for 24 hours, $64 for 5 days, and $79.95 for 1 week. I have to have Wifi because I am taking online classes at the university and spring break doesn’t begin for another week. Lots of homework to do.

Homework isn’t so bad though, when I can take a break from studying




to look at this:




or this:




Once I took a break for a walk and we found this cool stone formation:




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Old 08-03-2013   #8 (permalink)
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Here is some crazy activity we saw at the pool. I swear those guys almost fell backwards and hit their heads on the edge of the pool.

(can you hear me watching my kids play - don't come running to me when you fall and break your leg!)



More random photos around this resort

















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Old 08-03-2013   #9 (permalink)
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The third day was the best day. We woke up to a warm, calm morning. Grabbed a quick breakfast and hurried to find a palapa. Most were gone by 8:30, but we found one with a view of the ocean. I brought my laptop with me to work on more homework. By the afternoon I was done with homework so we moved onto the beach so I could go for a swim.

The current was still strong from the winds of the past week or two. I discovered I could swim parallel to the beach and stay in one place.

After that work out, we settled back into our lounge chairs on the beach. Some people got a volleyball game going. Jon played, but I watched. As a side note: No waiters are available at the pool or beach. You are on your own.
This day everybody flocked to the pool and the beach to soak up the warm sun, sans wind.


This character came out to play, dressed in gold lameí shorts and tank top. He stopped to pose with people for pictures, and then joined the volleyball game. My guess is that he lost a bet with his friends.

Tough group, his friends.


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Old 08-03-2013   #10 (permalink)
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Good bye Cancun!

Tuesday morning arrives with more gusty winds. I am so looking forward to going to Cozumel today, but I am not looking forward to the ferry ride with all the wind. We take a cab to downtown so we can get on the ADO to Playa.

The cab driver offered to drive us to Playa for $70. No thanks, we’ll take the bus. As soon as we got to the terminal, we bought our tickets and boarded the bus which left moments laters.
What timing! We got lucky with this the whole trip! I think the tickets were around $100 pesos for 2 people. On the ride to Playa a movie was playing, dubbed in Espanol. It was hilarious - gangs that fight each other with break dancing moves. The whole thing led up to a dance off in break dance style.

Mostly I watched the scenery pass. I tried to take pictures, but we were moving too fast.










It struck me as kind of sad, how empty this building is



Soon we were driving down Juarez. So slowly I felt I could get out of the bus and walk and get to the pier more quickly. I watched the locals walking on the sidewalk and wanted to shout out to them “Hello amigos! We are back!” Crazy tourist.


We got our bags and went straight to buy our ferry tickets. I watched the bags while Jon stood in line to buy the tickets. Some guy tried to sell me a rental car in Cozumel. I told him that I don’t drive. Ever. He didn’t know what to do with that response!

It was a lot warmer here than Cancun. It was chilly up there in Cancun, I didn’t realize how I missed the warmth until I got to Playa, which was still cooler than normal.


They were just getting ready to board for the trip to Cozumel. No waiting! The water was a little rough so we sat inside near the middle of the boat. As we pulled away from shore, I waved goodbye to PDC and said “Don’t worry, I’ll be back!” Jon and I really felt like we wasted our time in Cancun. Never again.

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Old 08-03-2013   #11 (permalink)
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Next chapters...Cozumel, and then Playa

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Old 08-03-2013   #12 (permalink)
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Great start!
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Old 08-03-2013   #13 (permalink)
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Cozumel






The salesman at the ferry terminal seem subdued, not as aggressive as before. I only heard a few “how long are you here,” “do you want any tours,” “do you want a rental car?”

Our taxi to Park Royal Cozumel is $80 pesos.

We check in, but it isn’t even 1:00 yet. I tell the front desk clerk that I know we are early, and he agrees that our room isn’t ready yet. He gives us our wristbands so we can enjoy the amenities. Hungry, we first go to the buffet restaurant.

I just want ceviche and chips and guacamole. The guacamole here is delicious, slightly chunky with small bits of onion and tomato. The ceviche today – not so much. It is a mixed seafood, and the mussels overpower the other more delicate flavors. I have a glass of white wine that is crisp and refreshing.

The servers here aren’t as outgoing as the Grand Park Royal in Cancun. They seem to me to be overworked. There isn’t as many staff as when we were last here 2 years ago. I feel bad that they are worked so hard. The restaurant staff is already working when food services first begins at 7:00 am, and are still here after closing at 10:00 pm.


After lunch we go to the beach area. It is almost completely PACKED. There are 2 cruise ships in port, and I am guessing that some of the people are cruisers with day passes. Around 3:00, a few people start clearing out and we get a couple loungers on the deck right above the water. Playa and Cozumel are a lot warmer than it has been in Cancun. But the pool is cold. NOBODY is in the water.


Today is tequila day. I am taking my tequila straight today, thank you very much. The “best” tequila here is Jose Crappio and El Jimador Traditional. El Jimador is better that Jose, which isn’t saying much. I enjoy a glass of pineapple juice with each shot. Must get my vitamins. :


The ala carte restaurants are already booked for dinner, so it is the buffet for us. It’s “Caribbean” night. Beans and rice, jerk chicken, and roast pork loin are the highlights. Not bad for a buffet. Jon and I like good food, and still we almost always find something we enjoy. The only exception is “Oriental” night.

We look forward to dressing up for dinner. It's like date night.



Haven't mastered "selfies" yet



Wednesday we get into the Italian restaurant. Red wine here isn't really drinkable. I never see it served out of a bottle, only a carafe. My guess is it comes from a gallon jug of swill.

The Italian menu has little variance from the Italian menu at Cancun. The main difference is Cancun has pizza, Cozumel does not. Jon’s carbonara sauce is thin, perhaps too much of the pasta cooking liquid. He is less than impressed. I have the spinach and ricotta stuffed cannelloni. It’s very tasty, and huge. I can’t even finish it

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Old 08-03-2013   #14 (permalink)
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Wednesday we walk to town. It was breezy and not too hot, and nice day for a walk. Nice photo ops along our walk.







Coming from Alaska, I am in love with the flowers and tropical foliage. The sun came out from behind a big cloud and lit up these ones while I was taking pictures.












Love the use of bright paint colors





Row of motorcycles parked in front of the municipal building



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Old 08-03-2013   #15 (permalink)
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I was taking pictures of this wall, right next to the little flea market.



A shopkeeper came over to pose for a picture with his "iguana" and made me laugh.



Then we made Jon pose.



After that they had fun dressing him up. "Here, senor, put on the hat. Wait! You need a blanket too!"

Jon doesn't look like he is having as much fun as we are.




One of the shop keepers is trying to get me to buy something to remember my vacation, but I'm not much of a souvenir purchaser. He starts with one of those giant mariachi hats, and explains mariachi to me, with the fancy clothes and folk music.

Then he shows me a blanket with a Mayan figure on it. Such a nice guy, we spent about 15 minutes talking while he explained how Mayans gave offerings to their various gods to ask for different favors, such as rain, fertility, and guardianship.

The Mayans have a stone wall, with guardian statues at the corners, he says. If the people pray for protection, and an outsider such as myself goes in and takes something that does not belong to me, the guardians will protect. Maybe they will throw stones.

This shopkeeper struggles a little with English, but is much better than my Espanol. He asks me if I know the little green men in Ireland. I say, “you mean elves? Leprechauns?” “Yes!” he exclaims, “like that!” The guardians are little green men, about knee high to a Mayan. They protect, and they like to trick. If you are in the jungle and get lost, they will help keep you lost and you are guaranteed to keep going in circles.

I love hearing his story, we shake his hand and thank him for the education in his culture.

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