Travelling The World Begins In Mexico
The first leg of our round-the-world trip begins in Mexico, a country that I’ve travelled previously, but it’s the first time for my boyfriend, Dave. We fly from London to Cancun and the journey takes twenty-four hours due to a delayed connection in Miami. Not that we’re in a hurry, we have given ourselves a minimum of six months to visit some of the top places on our bucket list, after which we plan to settle in Australia to live and work (visas pending!).
When we arrive at Hotel Xbalamque in downtown Cancun we are hot and tired, but the buzz of finally arriving in our first destination means we are excitable. This is enhanced by the sight of our Mayan-themed hotel, which we booked as a little treat before we delve into dorm rooms and hostels.
Relaxing in Cancun
After a quick check-in we’re taken up to our comfortable double, air-conditioned room, which is desperately needed in thirty degree heat. We get an early night in preparation for a day of relaxing and sunbathing by the quaint pool to the rear of the hotel. Given that we’ve been working and saving hard for months to go on this world trip, we’re allowing ourselves a week of relaxation and luxury to begin with.
It’s a blissful couple of days spent tanning and visiting the nearby hotel zone for drinks. Cancun itself doesn’t hold much cultural charm in my opinion. The hotel zone is full of skyrise all-inclusives and luxury shops, with a short strip of restaurants, bars and nightclubs that pound music out all night and are lined with PRs shouting and trying to grab your attention. If you want to lay by the pool all day and party all night, it’s brilliant. The superclubs are incredible and even the smaller bars have a great atmosphere (try Monkey Bar if you want a more chilled night with live music).
If you want a little more culture though, you’ll need to take a day trip to one of the nearby islands or mainland excursions, which can be pricey. For a backpacker this isn’t ideal, so we don’t stay long before moving south to another tourist spot that’s got a little more variety to offer; Playa Del Carmen.
Beaches and sightseeing in Playa Del Carmen
My family are on holiday in the swanky resort that neighbours Playa Del Carmen, Playacar. Given that we’re on a strict budget though, Dave and I check in to a B&B which borders both Playacar and Playa Del Carmen’s most famous street, 5th Avenue. We plan to spend a week here as a mini-holiday, spending time with my family and celebrating my younger sister’s 21st birthday. We’re able to purchase discounted day and night passes for the hotel my family are staying at, the Riu Yucatan. It works out around an average of £35 per person per day, with all food, drink, facilities and entertainment included. It’s a bargain but way above our price range so we limit our trips here to a few throughout the week.
When we’re not lapping up the all inclusive perks, we spend our time visiting nearby towns and sights, such as Tulum, a town just an hour south which has the most gorgeous and basically empty beach:
We also visit a brilliant cenote, where we’re able to swim in the ice cold water of an underground cave, and Chichen Itza, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Chichen Itza is stunning and our tour leader gives us plenty of fascinating information about the Mayans who built and lived in the ancient city. We’re lucky enough to be visiting on the day of the Equinox, which is when the shadow of a serpent can be seen in the shadows cast by the main building. Unfortunately, despite the unbearably sweltering heat that’s been enveloping us all day, at the time the snake is predicted to appear a thunderstorm begins and the clouds mean hundreds of camped-out tourists see nothing. We do however, get treated to an eerie bolt of lightning that strikes directly behind the main pyramid, fantastically close and just as the clock ticks past the time of the expected serpent appearance. A message from the Mayan God perhaps? The field empties out pretty quickly after this anyway!
A bump in the road – bed bugs strike
Overall, the week passes smoothly except for a slight issue with bed bugs in our B&B which means we speedily move to a new hotel. I won’t name the place as they dealt with the issue very well and were completely mortified by the state of my bite-covered legs. I will tell you though, that the hotel we moved to was called El Acuario and it was lovely. With just three blocks walking distance to 5th Avenue, a nice pool and our own balcony complete with hammock, it was underpriced at just £122 for five nights in a double room with en-suite.
Time to say goodbye
The final bon voyage from our family comes after a hectic night out at the famous Coco Bongo Show & Disco. For anyone visiting Cancun or Playa Del Carmen I would highly recommend shelling out the cash to go there. The only way I can describe it, is that it’s like being at the theatre and at a club simultaneously. The buzz that the workers create from the moment you enter the building is unreal and continues with performances from dancers and acrobats, impersonating everyone from Michael Jackson and Madonna, to Pirates of the Caribbean scenes, to Bruno Mars. The pictures below do it no justice, just go there. You won’t regret it.
So after an emotional farewell to my parents, it’s time we make the journey to Belize and start our real backpacking adventure. We’re headed to the island of Ambergris Caye, to a town called San Pedro. Read my next blog to find out about our time on the reggae-filled island!