Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Honeymooning In The Riviera Maya: Playa Del Carmen!

First impressions: 
We flew into Cancun International (CUN), naturally, as it was the closest airport to Playa del Carmen. The Bear and I really try to avoid tourist traps (although sometimes they are justified), which is why we completely avoided the big name hotels in Cancun and decided to stay in Playa del Carmen instead in hopes of seeing more of the local culture. My favorite thing about Cancun International? The cocktail bar outside! August in the Yucatan is HOT and HUMID (goodbye pincurls!), and hits you smack in the face as soon as you exit the airport. Which is why I greatly appreciate the fact that you can order an ice cold beer or Coco Loco as soon as you get off of the plane! 
Obligatory tropical fruit mixed booze upon arrival - I ordered a cantaloupe agua fresca because I was so thirsty!

Obligatory chips and guacamole/salsa!
Sunset in Playa del Carmen

 Hotel Kinbe: 
There were so many quaint little boutique hotels to choose from in Playa del Carmen, and Hotel Kinbe was no exception. I forgot to take pictures of the hotel, but you should check out the link and see for yourself. They have a gorgeous indoor/outdoor pool in the lobby, which was perfect for a midnight dip after way too many tequila shots and countless mojitos! We booked a room that had a beach view and private rooftop terrace - it was gorgeous! I really loved the shower (is that weird?) because it had a natural stone floor and a window that opened overlooking the street below. It was also conveniently located in the center of town, about 50 meters away from the beach. 
Our private terrace at Hotel Kinbe!
I love all of the colorful buildings! There was also a coconut stand across the street :)

Downtown Playa del Carmen
A beautiful church in downtown Playa del Carmen

  The cuisine of the Yucatan:
I have to say that the restaurant options in Playa del Carmen severely disappointed me. I really expected more regional cuisine and less nacho stands (not even traditional Mexican cuisine!) and pizza joints (there were soooo many!). One of my pet peeves is when servers automatically assume that because you are a "gringo/a" you don't like/can't handle hot and spicy. I live for spicy, tangy, sour, tart, bitter, salty, etc. My palate gets bored very easily (mostly because its been very spoiled!). Nearly every restaurant we went to, I had to specifically request the "not for gringo" dishes - much to the amusement of my servers! One of the more memorable dining experiences was when we went to "Yaxche" - a high end restaurant specializing in traditional Maya cuisine. Naturally, when one visits the Yucatan, one must try the famous Cochinita Pibil (Yucatan style slow roasted pork that is marinated in citrus juice and bright red annato paste, then baked in a banana leaf). I definitely had a "Once Upon A Time In Mexico" moment ;)
Cochinita Pibil here we come! I forgot to take a picture of it, damn...too busy living life I guess :P

Beautiful presentation at restaurant "Las Delicias"
Chips and guacamole were everywhere...not that I have a problem with that. See that bright green sauce on the left? BEST THING EVER! Guess what? I discovered the secret formula...more to come!

Besides bottomless margaritas, fresh seafood Ceviche was my favorite way to beat the tropical heat! The balance of freshly squeezed lime, crisp cilantro, sweet red onions, and beautiful array of seafood is just perfect.
Beauty and the late August humidity:
If you decide to visit the Yucatan Peninsula in the peak of summer, let me just prepare you for a little of what to expect. This was my first time experiencing a tropical heat, which is so much different than Mediterranean summers. Unless you are sitting by the beach/pool all day in your swimwear, be prepared to be damp all day. Wear the lightest of fabrics, and know that at some point of the day you will be all wet from sweat (especially if you are out sightseeing). Needless to say, pincurls do not fare well in this kind of humidity (at least mine didn't, even with setting lotion)! Again, be prepared and practice your updo skills and bring a ton of cute hair accessories (Carmen Miranda style fruit clips, floral hair clips, and spin pins (best invention ever!). Waterproof eyeliner and mascara (if you are planning on wearing makeup) is an absolute necessity! Longwearing lip colors are also a wise investment - Limecrime's Velvetine in Suedeberry (a bright orange based red) was a definite go-to throughout my trip! 

Wearing Limecrime Velvetine in Suedeberry

What I packed:
I had a lot of fun shopping for this trip! Brightly colored peasant skirts, high waist bikinis in citron stripes and leopard prints, tight black peasant tops, ankle tie espadrilles, 1940's playsuits, and lots of fun accessories like those lemon yellow lucite hoop earrings pictured above. Remember to pack comfortable walking shoes...espadrille wedges are always my go to sightseeing shoes because they are easy to walk in, absorb shock,  and also happen to be very stylish. Espadrilles never go out of style!
A tropical inspired wardrobe: 1950's tangerine colored lace peasant skirt and 1940's citron striped high waist bikini.
DIY tip: for extra support, sew a supportive nude bra into your swimsuit top. If you are a DD or larger, you know how frustrating shopping for supportive swimwear is! Necessity is the mother of invention...
Muy caliente!
Achiote hues and the most adorable rope tie belt!
1940's playsuit in creamy banana plaid with Bakelite buttons!

All in all, although a bit too touristy for my taste, Playa del Carmen was a pretty little town and best of all it was relatively close to a lot of archaeological sites that I was dying to see, including (but not limited to): Tulum, Chichen Itza, and Coba. It was also closely located to Valladolid (a Spanish colonial town), Xcaret 
(the best eco-archaeological park in Cancun and Riviera Maya), and of course, the Cancun International (CUN) airport. I am still not sure if I would return to Playa del Carmen, not because I didn't enjoy it, but because I realized that I am not the type of person who likes to lounge on the beach for the entire length of my vacation. Thankfully there were enough tours based out of Playa del Carmen, or I would have gotten bored very quickly! I will write individual posts for both Tulum and Chichen Itza later on :)

Comrade Von Pussycat

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