Monday, August 15, 2011

Toddering in Cancun - part 2

Ok, let's continue our adventures:

4th day:

-we've decided to stay around the hotel and just relax after the exciting day at XEL-HA and TULUM (I believe everyone who will go there, will need a day off after).
So, after some splash, splash in the pool and the Caribbean, we've decided to shop some traditional items; apparently, the best place to go for these kind of souvenirs is called Mercado 28. We got there by cab and got sucked up in the shopping vibe. The place is not that traditional but amid the usual, crappy, souvenirs, you can find some little goodies. Personally, I found a little store with handmade shirts and dresses (very beautifully sewn) where I've purchased two darling shirts for my son. And in the craziness of silver jewelry, I actually found a place where I bought a beautiful, amber and silver bracelet, a bit different than everything else you'd see in other shops.
Anyway, overall, I didn't find it being the best place of traditional items, it's filled with a lot of plastic, cheap shit, prices are overall expensive, you get to negotiate but they start so high, there's no way to get a good deal, but if you are in the neighborhood, and have some time to kill, go and visit it!
One little advice for the family with kids! We took the cab almost everywhere we went. Cabs don't have car seats and sometimes the cab drivers can be a bit "loco" when driving. Tell them to slow down and hang on to your kids, that should do it! Generally, the distances are not too far away one from each other so the cars don't get to go that fast.

Restaurants in Cancun

If you don't go for an all-inclusive kind of deal, there are some good restaurants in Cancun that are worh trying. My favorite is, by far

1. The crab house - the seafood is fresh and to die for. Service is great and the restaurant itself is very cute and with some amazing views towards the golf;

2. Argentinian Steak House - if you like beef, then this is the place to go. Big, amazing, juicy steaks. Great side dishes. The food is to die for. Very kids friendly.

3. The Habichuela restaurant : this place is especially impressive by the interior and exterior design. It sits on Maya ruins so the moment you come down the stairs, your feet will touch the glass floor that protects the beautiful ruins beneath. The service was good and the food although interesting in taste did not impress me otherwise.

4. Ruth's steak house : good steaks, nice sides, nothing too impressive.

5. Cenacolo restaurant: although this restaurant seemed to have the right ingredients for being a good one , for some reason it's not. The food selection is scarce, apparently their thing is homemade pasta but even so there's not too much to choose from, the salad I've ordered didn't even remotely came close to the presentation and the price tag so, this place should either revise their menu or just redefine itself.

6. Mocambo restaurant: kind of a cheap, bad mexican food although the view is pretty amazing.

5th day:

We decided to go by ourselves (no more organized tours) to see Isla Mujeres. To get to Isla Mujeres you need to take a boat. There are special places where you can buy the tickets and from where the boats live. The tickets costed around 30 USD and then we also rented a golf cart for the whole day which was an extra 50 USD, that put us to a total of 80 USD.
Isla Mujeres is a very interesting place. You finally get out from the all pampered, nice and shiny hotels and malls and meet some kind of reality: abandoned houses, stray dogs, simple people selling their stuff on the street in order to make a living. But beside this, there was something magical about this island. The raw life, the white sands, the blue and clear sea. We drove up and down, visited the turtles farm, enjoyed the wide almost deserted beaches and then shop in those shaky, little stores.
When it came time to eat and having a toddler on board, we searched for a clean, nice place and we found it in:

- Villa Rolandi - such a cozy, nice place on the shore of the sea with spectacular views and a beautiful layout. The food was great and the service quick and efficient.

The Cancun vacation definitely set up the bar for our future traveling destinations as a family. Overall, it was a great experience, full of fun, sun and great memories and pictures, too. If Cancun is on your waiting list, don't hesitate to go there, you will not regret it!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Toddlering in Cancun, part 1

This year, we decided for a family vacation in Cancun, Mexico. Since it's only 4 1/2 hours away from Los Angeles by plane, we figured it will be the perfect family get away. And it was.
We got to the Intercontinetal El Presidente hotel around 8 in the evening (it was already dark, we couldn't see much outside, except for the amazing pool and the unbelievable warm water of the sea).
Facts about the hotel:
-El Presidente is most likely not the most beautiful, awesome hotel I've ever stay in, BUT we had a very nice suit with a big bath and shower and a big balcony looking towards the Caribbean (the view was breathtaking):

-because we were having an upgraded status, we were getting in the morning complimentary breakfast (a nice buffet- fruits, cereals, omelet bar, pancakes, fresh orange juice or mixed fruits juice, coffee, milk); it was not a big buffet but big enough to satisfy any morning hunger and with lots of options to feed a toddler (my son, 23 months will have fresh fruits, cereals, omelet, fresh orange juice). If you want a bigger, better breakfast you can go to the restaurant downstairs where you could have a bigger buffet selection and you could order an expresso (the only place to order an expresso) which was a big plus for me. Also, you'd have to pay for this one (generally around $50 for 2 persons, tip included)
Overall, I wouldn't say the food at this particular restaurant was that great. If I'd have to give them some stars, it would be somewhere between 2 and 3 stars.
The service overall was good (especially the room service and the servers in the restaurant). We didn't find particularly helpful the people from the reception desk (they either didn't understand our request or they were very slow in processing the information or they would just not help). 3 stars as well for the service.
Now, for the sand and the beach. I believe probably El Presidente has one of the nicest beaches on that strip. Meaning is long, wide, you have enough space and you don't feel particularly clutter by anything or anybody. The sand is to die for: soft and white and the water is absolutely the BEST.
Things to do in Cancun with a toddler:
Look, this is not a MUST SEE, MUST DO list while in Cancun. If you don't want to spend all day long by the beach or the pool (which for us it's boring), if you want to get something out of the vacation but not go too crazy 'cause you have a little one, then you can try one of the following or try them all. It's a lot of fun!
-in the second day of our stay, we just wanted to enjoy the beach and the pool of the hotel but in the same time, we wanted to do something fun so we booked a trip on a sailing boat (it was $35/ person); it was divine; the wind was just perfect, the water just blue and clear, the sea views breathtaking; So, if you want to be GREEN, choose a sailing boat and adventure yourself in the sea;

3rd day was:

-it's a natural aquarium combined with a man made park; it's an absolutely beautiful place;
-to get there you can either go by bus (there are tours organized through the hotel you live in or you can rent your car and be the master of your time); because we didn't know we had other options, we choose the hotel tour and we didn't like it that much (hey, but that's just us, we're a bit picky); first of all, the transportation sucked (excuse my language); The first bus picked us up @ 7:15 am, after making the tour of the hotels to pick up more people, then we end up to another bus station where we had to took another bus to take us to XEL-HA. Total of hours spent in the bus: 3. And this is a 1 1/2 -2 hours kind of trip. So, if we'd have to do it again, we would totally rent a car and be in charge with our own time.
-secondly, once you subscribe for these kind of tours, you have this all-inclusive kind of situation: all you can eat, drink, etc. The food was not good! So, we didn't end up eating that much and we don't drink (alcohol) anyway, so, again, we didn't feel gaining anything.
But once you get there, as I said, the area is very beautiful, well kept and clean. Even if they are areas where little toddlers could hurt themselves (if you are careful and aware of them) then you can have a good time. Once your kid is 5 and older, this is the perfect place to visit and have fun!
In the same tour, there was also included a tour to
OMG- what a magical place! The Maya ruins are just beautiful and breathtaking, the whole site is very well kept, the tour guide (or at least the one we had was very, very knowledgeable and funny) and you can totally walk around with your stroller if you have to 'cause there are handicapped built pathways.
BE AWARE of the mosquito bites!!!! They are horrendous!!! I was so annoyed because I packed a mosquito repellant but forgot to put in my backpack so I ,especially, end up with a lot of bites which turned up to be very itchy. So, if you plan to go there, don't forget to use some on your skin!!!


I work on movies-I love movies

  • 21 grams
  • 4,3,2 - Mungiu
  • Age of innocence
  • American Beauty
  • An Education
  • Apocalypse now
  • Atonement
  • Blind Side
  • Burn after reading
  • Casino
  • Gone with the wind
  • Good fellas
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Hereafter
  • Inception
  • Julie & Julia
  • Kill Bill - vol 1
  • Kill Bill - vol 2
  • La Vita e bella
  • Mar al dentro
  • Midnight in Paris
  • Million Dollar baby
  • Mystic River
  • Nine
  • Orient, Occident
  • Panth's Labyrinth
  • Slumdog millionaire
  • Some like it hot
  • Sophie's choice
  • The bridge of Madison County
  • The departed
  • The English Patient
  • The Godfather
  • The Hours
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley
  • Train de Vie
  • Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona