As you already know, I don’t do package holidays. But exception proves the rule. I was keeping extremely busy and wanted to go on a beach holiday as soon possible and with as little effort as possible because I simply did not have the time to shop around for flights and hotels. All I wanted from this holiday was sun, sleep and relaxation. Nothing much. So I decided to take a last-minute package deal including flights and accommodation. Destination Mexico.
Normally this time of the year I would have travelled to Asia to seek the sun, but now I wanted something totally different. Mexico had been on my bucket list for a very very long time already and as I had never been to North America or South America before, I decided that it was about time head west instead of east!
The only thing I knew about my package deal was that the flight destination was Cancun and that the tour operator would accommodate me somewhere in the Yucatan Peninsula. As I knew nothing in advance I decided to take this experience as an adventure without any specific plans or high expectations.
The flight was long, 13 hours, and even though I was seated next to a Finnish-Russian couple with 1-year-old twin girls on their lap, everything went smoothly. Before approaching the east coast of Canada and the US we had absolutely breathtaking views over Greenland, which was covered by snow and icebergs.
When we arrived in Mexico I found myself ending up in Playa del Carmen, a busy beach town with lots of tourists and entertainment opportunities, but nothing much authentic Mexican to see or do. For my taste it was way too far from the original Mexico. I was not happy at all as I knew that it was a kind of mass tourist destination that I hate. I call it a tourist trap. In addition I was feeling blue because just a week before the trip something snapped inside my right foot and I was diagnosed with repetitive strain injury due to too much sports. As a result, I was basically advised by my doctor not to walk or put any stress on the foot. Great.
A stroll along the pedestrian Fifth Avenue strip of Playa del Carmen, locally known as Quinta Avenida, located just two blocks inland from the beach, seemed to be popular in the evening. I believe it was the place to see people and the place to be seen in Playa del Carmen. The Avenue was packed with large crowds and lined with hundreds of souvenir shops, boutiques, cafes, over priced restaurants and bars, hotels etc.
I was not excited at all by the very touristy town centre. Despite my sore foot I wanted to find out if there was something more authentic around. And yes there was! Further away from the town centre I found colourful quarters with traditional local living, small shabby houses, local schools with kids playing ball on dusty fields, bakeries, fruit and vegetable markets, and by far the best restaurants serving original Mexican food, especially tacos, with low prices, yay!
The main beach of Playa del Carmen was very long but fairly narrow and full of tourists drinking beer in their sun chairs from dawn till dusk.
A couple of kilometres south of Playa del Carmen I found the spectacular white sandy beach of Playacar. It was so quiet, long and wide. Totally different from the beach in Playa del Carmen. This is where I ended up spending most of my days napping, chilling out and reading a book.
The beaches north of Playa del Carmen were also very nice and quiet.
My hotel was conveniently located right on the beach in the town centre and only one block away from the Quinta Avenida. I did not mind the hotel being very simple with a bed hard as a rock and not having hot water in the shower. But I did mind that I was not able to sleep. That was the number one thing I wanted out my holiday.
After three nights in Playa del Carmen I came to the conclusion that this was a holiday from hell. In addition to being placed in a tourist trap, I had not been able to sleep a single minute during the first three nights. This was due to the fact that my hotel was located in the nightclub district right next to the wildest, largest and loudest nightclubs in town. The nearest night club was situated just across the road about 15 metres from my room and the other clubs just 50 metres away.
The nightclubs started to play loud music, I mean VERY LOUD music at 10 pm and continued until 5 am. I must say it was BAD, a total nightmare! My hotel room walls were trembling from the loud music and it felt like sleeping in a tent inside a nightclub. The hotel staff kindly provided earplugs but they could not keep from hearing the constant beat as it shaked the whole room. I changed rooms a couple of times but it was the same thing in every room. There was no chance of getting any sleep. What a nightmare!
As I contacted my tour operator with this matter I did not receive any polite response or apologies. They only stated that with last-minute deals you cannot expect anything better. What? I told them that the loud music was totally unacceptable and demanded them to change me to another hotel. They would have been willing to do that for an extra charge of 700-800 €. Unbelievable. I spent two days on the phone arguing with them and at the end they decided to make a “gesture” towards me and gave me a refund of 70 € for all the discomfort I had experienced. Hurray! By that time I had already spent more money on the overseas phone calls with them so it was definitely far from a win-win situation. Oh boy, I was so tired, so frustrated and so angry. Not at all the kind of quiet holiday I had expected. So, at this stage I figured out that the best thing to do in order to avoid sleepless nights and to be able to enjoy the rest of my holiday was to get out of Playa del Carmen and travel around in the Yucatan Peninsula and spend my nights elsewhere. So off I went!
What happened next? Where did I travel? Read it in my following posts: