Tag: mexico

Camel Riding in the Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Desert!

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Riding off on tequila sands

For a really unique adventure during your Cabo San Lucas, Mexico visit, embark on a camel ride in the desert!

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Kissing camel!

This is a three phase experience. First, you meet the camels and learn about them followed by a photo op (and, if you’re camel’s feeling frisky, a Casanova-like kiss!)

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Ready to embark on the adventure!

Second, you mount the camels in groups of two (solo traveler? no problem, you’ll share with another solo) and embark on an enlightening journey along the beach and through the desert.

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Epic desert journey!

I found riding a camel surprisingly comfortable and relaxing. Before mounting, I was warned that since the camels are wider than horses some people consider them uncomfortable. That was not my experience. My camel felt a lot more sturdy and the ride smoother compared to the horseback rides I’d been on. It was a wonderful way to travel!

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Desert landscapes

The landscapes of the desert were beautiful. I was there in January, when temperatures were mild. This dazzling desert wonderland is flanked on one side by beach and the other side by mountains, a breathtaking pleasure to behold! Yep, this place has it all!

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Rustic, authentic alfresco dining!

The third portion of the tour was an authentic, alfresco lunch buffet. Fabulous food in an amazing atmosphere – what more can you ask for after an exhilarating ride? (And, yes, camel meat was available…!)

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Delicious authentic lunch!

Also on the menu: a tequila tasting! What a great way to quench your desert thirst…!

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Too much tequila?!

 

You can see more of this unique experience here:!

 

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Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico!

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El Castillo (“the Castle”)

Chichen Itza, on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, boasts some of the most spectacular Mayan ruins in the world. Dating from 600-900AD, Chichen Itza means “the well at the mouth of the Itza.” Although remote, Chichen Itza is frequently featured in bus tour excursions from Playa del Carmen (2 hours, 7 minutes), Cancun (2 hours, 15 minutes), and Cozumel (3 hours, 25 minutes). Although that may sound like a long trek, the treasures to be found once there make every second worth the journey! Perhaps the most enthralling architectural marvel of all here is El Castillo, Temple of Kukulcan, or “the castle,” a 98 foot high enormous ziggurat temple. (Art History tip: when there are steps it is a ziggurat, not a pyramid.) On the platform at the top sacrifices were conducted.

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Templo de los Guerreros (“Temple of the Warriors”)

Near the Castle is the Temple of the Warriors, where a forest of columns is adorned with depictions of the most honored fighting champions.

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“Great Ball Court”

Athletes were champions, too. A favorite with visitors here is the Great Ball Court, the largest (551 by 230 feet) and most well-preserved Mayan ball court in the world. The court is surrounded by “stands,” or audience seating areas. Different classes were assigned to different seating areas, becoming increasingly more lavish and “with a better view of the action” as the audience member elevated in social class. It reminded me of the seating structure of the amphitheaters of Ancient Rome, a whole ocean away. Notice the donut-shaped carving (top left on the photo above.) The ball had to get through this hole! Seeing this, you contemplate the tremendous skill of the Mayan athletes.

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Carvings on the wall of the Ball Court

Carvings on the walls of the ball court are extremely detailed, and tell the story of the ball game and its athletes. The “winner” had the privilege of being selected for sacrifice through decapitation (also depicted here!)

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“Venus Platform”

There are many other buildings here to explore. Take your time to notice the intricate detail on many of these structures. There is absolutely no better way to learn about a time and place in history than from the original people, who, here, eternally tell their first-hand story through their artwork. No modern tour guide can tell it so well.

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Overhead view*

*Open source (credit: dronepicr, http://www.commons.wikimedia.org)

You can view my full video tour of Chichen Itza here!:

 

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I am extremely grateful for your generous donation to help keep the site running! This site and individual posts are not sponsored! A dollar may not be a lot, but every dollar counts!

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Captivating Contradictions in Mazatlan, Mexico!

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Cliff Divers

Mazatlan is a bustling metropolis on the Mexican Riviera, though you’re never far from the laid-back pleasures of miles of beaches and oceanfront pedestrian pathways here. There are many pleasures to partake in here, but if you’re up for some real excitement, don’t miss the “cliff divers,” one of the city’s primary tourist draws. These guys make the death-defying leap all day in exchange for your voluntary donation. Well worth the “price of admission!”

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Big city, big beaches!

The beaches are seemingly endless here. Enjoy views of the city skyline and distant islands while the waves wash over you.

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Miles of oceanfront walkways

If swimming’s not your thing, there are miles of pedestrian pathways sporting the same super views! Statues and other art guide the way to the tropical delights all around you.

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Mazatlan Cathedral, exterior

Mazatlan’s architectural highlight is Mazatlan Cathedral, or, more formally, the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. This baroque revival style building was finished in 1899.

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Mazatlan Cathedral, interior

The interior is inspiring. The sunlight glow beaming through the stained glass bathe the sanctuary in brilliantly bold color, and towering pillars line the aisle like exclamation points paying tribute to the undeniable beauty of this place.

Mazatlan is at once old and new, peaceful and exciting. The contradictions are a joy to experience!

You can view my full video tour of Mazatlan here!:

https://www.youtube.comwatch?v=iFkr1Z25res

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I am extremely grateful for your generous donation to help keep the site running! This site and individual posts are not sponsored! A dollar may not be a lot, but every dollar counts!

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Costa Maya, Mexico: Segway Adventure Excursion, Town, & Port

Stop two on the Norwegian Dawn Western Caribbean itinerary was Costa Maya, Mexico. Though touristy, I was impressed by the size of the port, and the attempt made to emulate the colonial style in architecture and layout. Surrounded by bright, pastel buildings complimenting the abundant sunshine highlighting them, it felt like paradise. Upon arriving at the port, we were welcomed by brilliantly-colored-costumed local performers.

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A warm welcome!

I signed up for the “Segway Adventure” excursion, and it was to be my first attempt using a Segway. Despite poor balance and osteoarthritis, I found the Segway extremely easy to control, and great fun! I wished I’d had more shock-absorbent shoes, because something about the motor under your feet is a little bit of a strain on them, but it did not impede on my enjoyment too much. After a short training session and feeling very comfortable on the Segway, we were off and into town!

We rolled through a long stretch of town parallel to the beach (don’t think I would have wanted to try to walk it – it was very spread out!), lined with alfresco dining opportunities, street vendors, stores and bars, and more masseuses offering massages than I’d ever seen in my life! (Sorry, Atlantic City Boardwalk!) It was the epitome of hedonism, all of this indulgence on massage tables, listening to the waves crash on the shore, sun-drenched skin, and an abundance of blissful smiles.

Others opted for water sports and swimming in the refreshing, aqua ocean waters, glistening in the mid-day sun as if crystals were floating upon it. The beach area did not extend far into land because of all of the other services on the beach, but it was very long so there was room for everyone. The Segway tour included a post-Segway “Beach Break,” during which I wandered up and down the street and beach, greeting locals in Spanish, and getting hassled by street vendors…

The scenery was beautiful, and the Segway was a marvelous way to take it all in. We were able to cover a lot of ground quickly while enjoying the soft, warm breeze on our faces (and a quick getaway from the more aggressive street vendors!)

Costa Maya is definitely a port to which I would love to return. Granted, it may not be the most authentic experience, and I probably saw as many tourists as locals (if not more) during the stop here, but it was fun nonetheless and the amazing scenery provided an excellent explanation why the place has become so attractive to tourists. It is very clean, well-maintained, and abundant with relaxing things to do, and I look forward to my next visit!

Please visit my YouTube channel for video footage of this stop:

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I am extremely grateful for your generous donation to help keep the site running! This site and individual posts are not sponsored! A dollar may not be a lot, but every dollar counts!

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Travel Flashback: Carnival Triumph to Mexico in September

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By the time this blog publishes, I’ll be sipping Pina Coladas in the Caribbean Sea, (yes – the Caribbean again… hey I like my winter 75 and sunny!) so it was time to pre-schedule a saved blog post from September as a “flashback” this week! Given the trip was unforgettable, didn’t seem to matter that it took place last fall – it feels like yesterday!

We sailed on the Carnival Triumph to Cozumel and Yucatan. The New Orleans departure port offered us a great excuse to take a long road trip, and we stopped in Biloxi at Harrah’s for a couple of nights of unbridled fun gaming and amazing gulf coast seafood! I had never experienced such great table games with low minimums and friendly dealers at any other casino I’d ever been to. Then it was off to New Orleans and the ship. For the first port excursion, I visited the ancient Mayan city of Tulum, and being an Art History major in college I was completely overcome with awe! From the 13th-15th century, the structures of Tulum have held up impressively well considering their age. There are many different buildings; particularly interesting are the temple and palace. I love museums, but there is nothing quite like being surrounded by ancient architecture in a wide open outdoor space to help visualize and imagine how it was back in the day and bring it to life. Of course, these are ruins and heavily damaged, but they really give you a sense of the expanse of the city and some of the day-to-day rituals that were important elements of people’s lives in the time. And then there is the modern population now calling this place home – iguanas! They were crawling all over the ruins, and one of the locals advised me they are the “guardians!”

After the visit to Tulum we visited a community of modern-day Mayans. They provided us a delectable meal including the most mouth-watering, piping hot and fresh off the griddle homemade tortillas. After a stop at a cenote for a refreshing swim it was back to the ship.

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I wanted to choose an excursion suitable for my disabled husband at the next port, so we signed up for the Mi Casa Es Su Casa VIP beach house. We were looking forward to a relaxing day on the beach, in the pool, on the hammocks, and having our appetite satisfied and thirst quenched by attentive waiters while we settled in on loungers drenched in warm, golden sunlight. The highlight of the day was the on-site masseuse who only charged $30 for a half-hour massage that prepared us well for our day of blissful relaxation. After an indulgent massage it was time for spicy margaritas and an array of delicious Mexican specialties on the buffet before a dip in the pool – and ocean. It was a luxurious day of pampering and peace.

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After our Mexican adventure it was back to the ship and the port of New Orleans. Feeling lucky after such a terrific trip, we stopped in at Harrah’s New Orleans for some gaming fun before the long drive home. Sure enough, I left a winner, and had a deposit for the next adventure!

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Donation

I am extremely grateful for your generous donation to help keep the site running! This site and individual posts are not sponsored! A dollar may not be a lot, but every dollar counts!

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