A short move down the highway, we decided to check out Playa del Carmen. A couple years back we did a spring fling with the fam in Cancun proper in a VRBO on Tortuga Beach. Now we just kicked off the New Year in an all inclusive where we were “stuck” in the paradise it offered but without costly taxi expense we found ourselves pretty much imprisoned in the properties grounds near Puerto Morales. We read and chatted with people about the lure of Playa del Carmen’s beautiful Riviera Maya beaches, it’s 5th Avenue tourist zone and the quaint small town vibe. We decided to check it out and lay low for a few days in the 3.5 star boutique Hotel LaLeyenda (aka La Pasion Boutique Hotel) adjacent to the town square and Municipal Palace where a local food and craft market and shows were held in the evenings. This town started the first of the snowbird escape 2020.
personal losses we’ve experienced during our escapes has me pushing for destinations that are closer to the USA. I feel an urgency for less travel time and distance should situations arise where our preference is to be with loved ones who might need us (or maybe it’s my needing to be with them). So we are here in Mexico to do some “comparison” shopping. The freedom from debt we’ve worked hard to establish allows us these escapes but we must watch our p’s and q’s and really search for value in our off season living as well. It’s not about vacations it’s about living a life of travel. Therefore price points and exchange rates are extremely important. Someday soon we feel we will not desire to do the “bouncing around” as much so our goal is to decide where that location is that checks off the bulk of the boxes for our snowbird escape satisfaction annually. So basically we are in the R&D stage.
Food, drink, partying and the sea are the focus in Playa, at least for tourists. I do believe a settled life in Playa would mean a content life out of the tourist zone. After all, with year round sun and the sea and a non rushed surrounding society how bad could life be? In our walks we saw many condos for sale and rent. Our shopping research at Mega, Wal Mart, pharmacies and restaurants outside the tourist zone showed us a savings of 20-40% over US between cost of goods and exchange rate. Adventures/organized site seeing of any kind is pretty spendy coming in at about the same rates you would see across the US.
After a few days in Centro we moved to The Shore at 46th. We found it at an incredible daily rate of $45 US. These rooms have balconies and kitchenette and if traveling with family or friends a great feature are the adjoining rooms separated by full living and dining room. The roof top pool is small with only a few lounge chairs, four day beds and a couple tables but the bar has daily specials and has wood fired brick oven pizza and a spectacular view of the sea. This move put us a block from the beach and a block from 5th Ave. The Shore also provides access to the Martina Beach Club at no charge which was an amenity we took advantage of.
Rosarito and Cabo. I was enamored. That same heckling that is part of all Mexico beach side scenes is reflected in the vibe of 5th Ave. We rarely made a trip down the street without being approached and solicited. “What you need senor, Cubano cigars, marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine. Let me get it for you sir.” “Come on in, it’s nearly free.” I was amazed by these constant approaches. Of course vendors of “normal” goods are barkers as well. Setups, legitimate business, who knows, but it definitely was invasive. There were some beautiful carved gourd lights, leather goods and artisans hand rolling the cigars along with policia and army patrols making their rounds. I guess I can’t say it wasn’t at least a bit entertaining.
Taquerias El Fagon. We went twice and were very pleased. For quick quesadillas and sopes my favorite was Las Queckas. We also enjoyed La Patrona de Playa. The best Italian we had was at Ula Gula on 5th and 12th. We went with a spectacular group of Italians and a Greek who are new friends we had great times with who were staying at our hotel from Montreal. Bella Italia Trattoria and Rey David were also very good. I spent an hour with the ladies at Solange Beauty Salon to get my hair trimmed and found their services satisfactory at a fair price of $14 American for cut and style. All in all I was okay with Playa but honestly I doubt we’ll be back to stay as our value meeting satisfaction did not tip the scales in favor of this Mexican location.