Earlier in April I went to Mexico for the first time. The main reason is that my boyfriend moved back there in January, exactly at the same time I moved to London. After 3 months dealing with those 8000 km separating each other, and exactly a year after everything started between us, we were finally getting together again :))). Those 10 days were just so magic and this trip filled me with lots of energy, happiness, motivation and calmness. Writing this article is for me a way to share with you what I experienced and to give you some tips at the same time. Furthermore it’s also a personal way to remember these beautiful moments, and to make these souvenirs last through the time :).
This was our first and last stop – my boyfriend is originally from this city! To be honest, I really did not know anything about Monterrey before meeting him. That’s why before starting, I would love to share some info on this city;
- Monterrey is the 3rd largest city (metropolitan area) in Mexico after Mexico city and Guadalajara);
- It is surrounded by mountains – the “Sierra Madre” which is very beautiful and offers a nice escape to the Nature on week-ends so close to the city 🙂 ;
- It is the 2nd largest industrial center in Mexico, (mainly steel and iron industries);
- Monterrey is only 2 hours drive to Texas and I found out that it has got some similarities with American cities; it is laid out like many of them, with widespread suburbs.
- Finally… Did you know that Mexican people are the biggest consumers of Coca Cola in the world? (average of 225 liters/person..) – the Coca Cola company is also set up in Monterrey;
We spent the first and the last week-ends in Monterrey; to be honest on the first day I really suffered from the jet-lag but I pushed myself through the day to enjoy it to the fullest.
- We went to Parque Fundidora on Saturday morning, it is really nice for a walk and to chill;
- Enjoying great Mexican food. I felt so blessed to stay with Mexican people during this trip – Beside the culture and history, I’ve learnt so much about the Mexican food as well! It is so rich in flavors and so colorful – I already miss it! My boyfriend’s mother is undeniably a little chef. On my first lunch we had some quesadillas, some chicken cooked in a tasty sauce with corn and something I did not know before… Nopal! It is a kind of cactus I loved it so much that I kept eating it through my trip ahah. The day after we went to a very good Mexican restaurant where I had the chance to try many many typical dishes.
- On the evening we went to the BBVA Bancomer stadium to watch a Soccer game (Rayados against Chiapas) – the atmosphere during the game was galvanizing and it literally woke me up!
- On Sunday morning and afternoon, we went to two different Street Markets – you have several taking place in Monterrey, we went to a food market in San Pedro on the morning and to a flea market in the afternoon, in the center of Monterrey.
- El Mirador – We went there on Sunday night to get an amazing view on Monterrey;
- After some days in the south of Mexico (will talk about it later in this article ;)), we went back to Monterrey. We woke up super early on Saturday to meet my boyfriend’s friends to go to Cascada Cola de Caballo. It is a beautiful cascade located in the peaceful mountain, about 1h from Monterrey;
- On Saturday night we all went clubbing at The City in San Pedro – that was reaaally nice 🙂
- The day after we sweat it all out at Chipinque – It is a wonderful and huge ecological park located in the mountains. While enjoying the view over the city of Monterrey, you can meet some black bears there (true story!) 🙂
Playa del Carmen
On Monday 10th April we took a plane from Monterrey to Cancun. From there we rent a car and started our 5-day trip in Quintana Too and Yucatan .
We stayed two nights at Playa del Carmen. Playa is one of the trendiest spots on the Mexican Riviera and attracts lots of tourists thanks to its beautiful white-sand beaches and vibrant nightlife. Most of the liveness is concentrated around the Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue). We took an Airbnb a bit outside from the hustle and bustle of this chic and ultra touristic avenue – far enough to be mostly surrounded by locals… and to be waking up at 4am because of the neighbor’s rooster, ahah.
- Xcaret: We spent the entire Tuesday there. To be honest I did not expect to be that amazing. I highly recommend you to go there if you’re around the Riviera Maya. Xcaret is an eco-archaeological park which aims to promote the Mexican culture and the mesmerizing fauna and flora of Mexico. There’re more than 50 attractions (swimming in the underground rivers, snorkeling, dolphin tour, butterfly pavilion etc). The ticket price is a bit pricey but in my opinion it is really worth it. I recommend you to buy your ticket online (you can get a discount) and go for the Xcaret Plus as you have access to further areas and get the unlimited buffet and snorkeling equipment included. I suggest to arrive around 9am and to stay until the “Xcaret Mexico Espectacular” which starts at 7pm. The shows highlights Mexico’s history in a very nice way. My favorite activity at Xcaret? Swimming in the underground rivers – it’s absolutely wonderful and peaceful!
On our way to Chichen Itza, we stopped at the beautiful city of Valladolid, located in Yucatan – in 2012, the city was recognised as a Magical Town (Pueblo Magico) by the Mexican Tourism Department, probably thanks to its beauty (those sun-splashed pastel walls are so pretty), its culture and history.
It is particularly ideal to spend a week-end in Valladolid. Unfortunately we did not have time to, as we were rushing to Chichen Itza before the site closes (4:30pm/5pm!).
The center of Valladolid is caracterized by the main center park Francisco Canton Rosado, which is is surrounded by many restaurants and souvenirs shops and where you can see the Cathedral of San Servacio o Gervasio. It is absolutely lovely to walk around. Downtown you also have several markets and outside the heart of the city, there’s the cenote Zaci and the park Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria. But those, we did not have time to visit – we stayed basically around the main square and had lunch at El Atrio del Mayab, which is plenty of Yucatan food specialties – I really recommend it.
Aaaah Chichén Itzá… My mom kept asking me before I went to Mexico, and even during my trip, if I would visit the pyramides, actually she kept asking until I sent her a picture of me in front of the Temple of Kukultan ahah. The archeological site of Chichén Itzá is pretty large – actually it used to be one of the largest Mayan cities. Among the monuments you can admire, you have El Castillo (Temple of Kukulcan), The Temple of Warriors, Temple of Xtoloc, las Monjas and different other groups of monuments and even cenotes. Of course, the most famous one is the Temple of Kukulcan, one of the new 7 wonders of the world, where people rush in front of it to take The picture. The good thing about arriving late is that we could get a picture without having the mass of tourists behind us 🙂
Tulum is also one of the Magical Towns and is famous not only for its beautiful beaches and retreat centers, but also for being one of the last cities where the Maya used to live (built in the 13th century) and for being the only Mayan city built on a coast. Today you can visit the ruins, which are pretty amazing and from the site you have a wonderful view on the beach.
- Visiting the Maya Ruins;
- Chilling on the beaches;
- Eat a ceviche at El Camello Jr. – We saw all the very good recommendations and wanted to give a try for lunch. This local Mexican restaurant is very renown for its excellent seafood and attracts a lot of people – local and tourists! We had to wait around 30min but it was worth it, the food was really amazing, served in generous quantity for a reasonable price and the staff is super nice. We shared a medium ceviche with octopus and shrimps and had a guacamole (with tortillas, salsas and totopos on the side ahah). Although we took a medium ceviche, it was still a lot (but we kept it for dinner!^^);
- El Gran Cenote; amaaaaaazing! A Cenote is a natural “underground reservoir of water”. It is actually a hole in the earth, formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock – it looks a bit like a gruyère cheese ahah. It is so pretty and swimming in a Cenote was on our to-do list. We finally swam and snorkeled in the Gran Cenote before going back to Monterrey. We rented snorkeling materials and I am very happy that we did it as the underwater world of this cenote is particularly mesmerizing with all those fishes, tortues and rocks. It would be a shame to miss the opportunity to admire this natural gem and true beauty of the world.
Those 10 days were simply amazing and this definitely one of my favorites! I am so grateful for the awesome people I’ve met and for having discovered those beautiful places with my boyfriend. Now that I’m back in London, I keep thinking about going back to Mexico and exploring more places, especially the center, the pacific coast and Mexico city. Have you already been to Mexico? Or perhaps are you planning to? Where would you go?
Thank you for reading this – I hope you enjoyed it! I would love to hear from you so please feel free to give me your feedback 🙂