Mexico

Mexico week 1 - Discover Cancun and Chichen Itza

Cancun en Chichen Itzá

Discover

How nice that you came across this story! We, Sigrid and Bryan, left for Mexico exactly one week ago. Our first week we stayed in Cancun. We will let you know how that went and how we experienced our first week in this country. Here you will also be able to read some tips to prepare for your next trip. Would you like to follow our story? Then read on!

Although it was 2.30 in the morning when we had to get up, we left for the airport in Zaventem (Brussels) in good spirits and full of energy. Sigrid just managed to close her 25 kilogram suitcase and Bryan checked for the tenth time whether he had packed everything. We had been looking forward to this for a long time. Our big adventure.

Discover Cancun

When we arrived at the airport, everything went smoothly. From checking in our luggage (our 25 kilogram limit was not exceeded! Applause for Sigrid!) to boarding the plane. It was a pleasant start to our journey. Unfortunately, the aisle separated our two seats on the plane, so we were facing a long flight next to two strangers. Or not? The two seats next to Sigrid remained free as the doors of the plane closed. Hallelujah! We moved very quickly to the two free seats next to each other. What a peaceful and comfortable flight! Close together and not fall asleep next to strangers. Hurray for the empty seats!

The flight, despite our optimal luxury and many chances to sleep, lasted long. Sitting still for twelve hours is not easy. We had a stopover in Cuba and it took a very long time before all the passengers had disembarked. It also turned out our seats were taken. So we had to spend the last hour of the flight separately again. Fortunately, most of the flight was already over. One hour and a lot of turbulence later (the kind that makes your tummy tickle), we finally landed on Mexican soil.

Discover Cancun
Cancun with palms

Learned young

done old

Finally, stretch your legs and get outside as soon as possible! Not. After waiting half an hour for passport control, we had to go through a (shorter) check of our luggage. May we rest now? Not yet. Mexico’s airport is large and busy. Like (almost) every airport. We did not yet have pesos (the currency in Mexico) so paying for transport to our accommodation was not an option either. A very friendly taxi driver directed us to the nearest ATM. Of course, the taxi driver kept waiting at the ATM to take us to a far too expensive taxi. We were tired and did not yet know exactly how many pesos a euro was. Conclusion: we paid way too much for our taxi to our destination. 1,000 pesos, the equivalent of about 45 euros, for a 20-minute drive is just too much. In retrospect, we are glad we took a taxi, but we would have only spent half as much.

Accommodation

The house where we stayed this week is located in a typical Mexican neighbourhood. Here you will see only colourful houses with nice front gardens. Our neighbourhood is also secured with a doorman. Apparently, several districts have a doorman who keeps an eye on the traffic going in and out of the district. The house where we are staying is quite large for a typical Mexican house. It has several bedrooms (logical if you rent through AirBnb) and a roof terrace with two hammocks. Yes, it looks great!

Spicy, spicier, spiciest

The first thing we did was looking for food. Tacos, tortillas, nachos, quesadillas… It didn’t matter to us, as long as it was food. Our neighbourhood has a lot of nice stalls and small restaurants along the side of the road. It did not make it any easier to choose. We tried tacos, all different ones that we didn’t really know what they were serving. Bryan chose a sauce (which they always serve alongside the dishes) and the spicy burn didn’t wait. Ha-ha! Tested and disapproved. We are not used to the spicyness and therefore do not recommend trying any sauces. If you can’t help yourself, be smart and take just a little bit (by this we mean a dip as small as a crumb). Even if you like spicy food, it is better to do a test first. Trust us. Mexican spicy is extremely spicy!
Cancun beach

We want to go to the beach!

After searching for food, the search continued to the beach. The weather in Cancun is around 30 degrees and a bit of cooling down was welcome. We walked the route indicated by the GPS on our smartphone. We passed a lagoon where you had a beautiful view of the enclosed water and the large hotel area in the distance. Far away, that is. The beach and the sea were still miles away. Walking was no longer an option in this heat. The bus was the only option. But where is that bus stop? So, on foot it is. The first stretch of beach felt like heaven on earth. And then there was that view! Beautiful, simply beautiful. We picked a spot and stayed there for the rest of the afternoon. This was the peace we had been looking for for hours. Delight.

Road trip to Chichen Itza

One of the activities on our to-do list was a visit to Chichen Itza. This wonder of the world used to be a Mayan city and the remains are a Unesco World Heritage Site today. This is what we want to see! This trip did require some planning, since we did not want to book a day trip with the (too expensive!) organisations from Cancun. We chose to get there ourselves as the tourist organisations were limited in time in certain places. We want to choose how long we stay somewhere so we took the ADO bus, about 10 minutes’ drive from our accommodation, straight to Chichen Itza. Very easy and super comfortable!

How it really is

Chichen Itza itself was different from what we imagined. It is bigger and there is also more to see than just that one famous temple that you see in photos everywhere. Do bear in mind that it is extremely hot there (many open spots, little shade) and there are hundreds of salespeople who are constantly talking to you. However, do not believe their practised phrase “For you 1 dollar”, because if you then show interest, their price rises considerably and nothing remains for 1 dollar. Of course, we understand why they ask more, because 1 dollar is ridiculously little for the handicrafts they sell. So don’t hesitate to spend if you find something nice, because (almost) everything is handmade and also nice as a souvenir. After Chichen Itza we took a taxi to the famous cenote Ik Kil. This is a real must-see! Afterwards, this friendly taxi driver dropped us off in the town of Valladolid. We spent the evening there and then took the ADO bus back to Cancun. A very tiring but very enjoyable day! (More about this day and tips for your planning will follow later)
Cancun discover Chichen Itza
Road trip to Chichen Itza

Life in

Cancun

We were already told by our AirBnB hosts that real Mexican life is not like that in Cancun. We will find out in the coming weeks. Here, everything revolves around tourism. And although our stay is far outside the touristy hotel zone, this too is not the “real Mexican life” according to them. We are curious to know what it is!

We are starting to feel more and more at home here. We go shopping in the local supermarket daily, we take the bus like most people do and we are not afraid to try new dishes. We spend most of our time on the beach. It is breathtakingly beautiful and quiet. At least in some places. We recommend avoiding the middle of the hotel zone. At the beginning and the end, you will find quieter beaches. Shopping, too, is best done outside the busiest zones. We choose to avoid the tourist centre because it is crawling with American partying tourists, loud music and desperate salesmen.

We think Cancun is an insanely beautiful place, but we are also looking forward to the next few days that we can spend in Isla Mujeres. Sun, sea and beach, but also peace and quiet and the island life.

Streets Valladolid
CANCUN Mexico

Discover Cancun and Chichen Itza

Would you like to follow our travel stories? No problem! You can follow our travel stories through Mexico on our travel blog, but also on Facebook or Instagram.