Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Vacationing in the Hotel Zone: Cancun, Mexico

Now that we're back home and setting into the week since our Mexican vacation last week, we've had the time to go through many of the camera and phone snaps we took while there and put together a roundup of our favorites to share here on the blog.

To give a little background, we've been vacationing in Cancun at the beginning of March each year since early in our relationship. My Aunt Vera (who read in our wedding) owns a 4 week timeshare (she's been going for about 20 years) and is always kind enough to extend the invitation for us to visit for a week while she is there. It gives us the chance to take an affordable vacation, spend time with family and has allowed us to see and do so much in Cancun over the years. We skipped this favorite week-long vacation last year since we were in the throws of wedding planning, so had been even more excited to spend a little time in the sun since we were last there 2 years ago.

We tried to pack light, taking one suitcase and a couple big carry-ons for the trip. We flew from Richmond to Cancun, connecting in Atlanta each way and thankfully didn't have any hiccups along the way. Two years ago we had one of those nightmare transit stories you're bound to run into if you travel enough. We even loved Delta's creative new spin on the in-flight safety video, ha. Also! You might notice Tim decided to go clean-shaven for this trip. He tans amazingly well and wanted to make sure to get maximum exposure. I, on the other hand, burn amazingly well, so try to do everything to avoid too much sun. It makes for an interesting situation that we've worked out well over the years — we find the sunniest spot for Tim and make sure there's an umbrella, hat, ample SPF and extra towels for me to hide under if it gets to sunny.

Once in Cancun, we stayed at the Royal Caribbean. The villa we stayed in was on the 11th floor of the resort — from just outside the front door we had the following view of the peninsula and Caribbean Sea. This side is much less developed than the beach side, allows you to see almost all the way downtown and would light up with bright colors each evening when the sunset:

Once inside the villa, we woke up to this amazing beach view each morning. The bright blue water and palm trees are like something out of a movie or postcard:

Because we've been coming to this part of Mexico for 7+ years, we've been able to go out and see many of the historical and tourist sites (our favorites include day trips to Chichen Itza and Isla Mujeres), so this time we didn't plan anything but a week of relaxing beside the pool and hanging out around the resort — truly a week to just soak in the sun and relax. With the winter we have had, can you blame us?

We spent the bulk of our days poolside. We loved taking in the scenery, listening to the tropical birds, feeling the breeze and walking a few steps down onto the white sandy beach to take a dip in the Caribbean sea:

The shot above is a great example of our "sunbathing" routine. You'll see I am completely covered by the shade of an umbrella while Tim soaks in maximum sun exposure. Even so, all my freckles popped out as a welcome reminder from the sun.

We drank Mexican beers that always came with fresh lime wedges for squeezing right into the can. Tim may have also ordered a tequila shot or two:

And as in years past, each day at noon Tim would hop in the pool for a game of water volleyball:

When not hanging out poolside, we enjoyed making fresh snacks from local food like fruit smoothies and shrimp ceviche:

We shared both recipes on the blog while in Mexico — how's this for a remote office?

When we did venture out, we enjoyed walking the resort grounds, riding the city bus and shopping for local eats.

Around the resort there are many gardens and maintained vegetation. We were both pleasantly surprised to see how the onsite herb garden had taken shape over the past 2 years since last being here. We love that this resort makes an effort to grow plant varieties, incorporating them into the menus:

While on the subject of plants, our jaws dropped when we came across this hidden patch of thriving aloe vera plants:

They were just hanging out, unassumingly and abundant in a roadside bed under small palm trees. Tim snapped a small leaf to use as a sun soother and if we had been in the states it would have been hard to stop me from plucking up one of the teeny plant sprouts to try to cultivate back at home:

On the road leading down to the main strip where we like to catch the city bus, there are manicured plants like this favorite elephant-shaped bush I look forward to seeing every year:

Along the other side of this same road is a fenced area of vegetation where we always see lots of iguanas hanging out near or on the public sidewalk like it's no big deal. My heart skips a beat when I see them — they are like squirrels here in VA (not so special to see if you are local and abundant in the wild):

We usually hop on the city bus early in the week to head downtown for a big grocery trip to get what we need for our stay. It's always a fun trip for me, because I feel like we get to see all that's changed along the strip since the last time we've been there and it's like a 2 hour outing roundtrip. Tim, on the other hand feels like he's missing essential time in the sun, ha (but he always makes the trip with me anyway):

We pick up regular staples and without fail, a few of the guilty pleasures make their way back with us, like beautiful baked goods and pig skins:

Each morning we'd get up and either take part in a group yoga or Pilates class, and on off days we'd take long walks around the resort:

We'd visit the fish pond and say good morning to the turtles:


And walk over to the beach to look down on more of the wild iguanas (they look teeny from where we were but these guys on the beach were huge):

The last night of vacation, we said goodbye to the Caribbean sunset one last time and hit the town for a date night. By the end of the week, we were craving something other than Mexican food, so ventured out to one of our favorite restaurants in the Hotel Zone, Harry's, for some steak and fish. One of the fun parts about this place is how they bring out a huge stick of cotton candy after the meal — it's so offbeat and awesome at the same time:

The next morning we gathered our gear, had fun loading up on a few duty free goods, and embarked a smooth trip back to Virginia.

This little getaway was the perfect way to relax, unwind and get the needed inspiration and motivation to come back home and get busy in the garden.

Thanks for taking a peek at some of our favorite vacation snaps. We'd love to know if you have a favorite getaway spot you look forward to each year or if you've been to Cancun, what your favorite things to do and see are?

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1 comment:

  1. That sounds so lovely....welcome home! :) I really like the looks of the leather bag holding your laptop in the last photo. Is it from Etsy, too?