Gateway for Cuba

Trip Start Oct 03, 2012
Trip End Apr 08, 2013

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Hotel Zone beach

Flag of Mexico  , Yucatan Peninsula,
Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cancun was not in original plans for the journey. I only visited Cancun in order to travel to Cuba. It was the easiest way to get to Cuba as there are no flights from US to Cuba because of their diplomatic relations. I ended up having to stay 4-5 days (wish I had stayed more) in Cancun as the flight I booked (went to an agency there in Cancun and booked it, very easy) was 5 days later.  There are 2 flights a week with AeroMexico. It costs quite a lot for a 50 minute flight, USD330 including the visa for Cuba which is arranged by the agency. 

Cancun has really beautiful beaches, the Hotel Zone, which is a strip of land running many kilometers long and which has only hotels and clubs and beautiful white sand beaches and there are many Mayan archeological sites to visit nearby. I only managed to go to one, Chichen Itza which was declared by Unesco as one of the Modern Wonders of the World but there is also Tulum which is a small fortress on the beach and Comba, a couple of pyramids in the jungle, the only pyramids which it is still allowed to climb.

There is also a small beautiful relaxing island by the coast, Isla de Mujeres, where everyone was going and said it was very nice place. Cancun is a very nice and relaxing place to go, especially before the high season which begins in late November and peaks during the Spring break of US colleges, around April, when many US students go to Cancun to party.

The trip to Cancun started early. Got up at 5:30, packed and left Rafi's place at 6:00. Took the underground to Union station and from there the shuttle to Lax. Arrived at 8:20. Left for Dallas at 10:10 for a 3-hour flight. Arrived in Dallas Texas and had a bit over an hour of overlay which is perfect (always need some with connection flights in case there is a delay). Then it was an hour and 40 minutes to Cancun. Good surprise was that for some reason they changed my seat... to first class :-) so things were going good.

 Arrived on time to Cancun at 19:00. Went through immigration quickly and got the bus to downtown. Took a while but found my way to hostel. It is really not that easy without gps but is do-able. And specially when no street name signs! Then i got out to get something to eat. Tried to get some pesos from ATMs at bus station. Nothing. Tried my natwest card. Again nothing. It started raining! A lot! Only had a few USD on me. Exchanged them. More banks. Still no card was working. So... No cards work with ATMs, established that. Cypriot banks, as well as most banks in the world, will not allow the use of cards in ATMs due to the frauds that take place in Mexico (and as I would find later on in Peru as well). So make sure you have some cash on you when you travel to Mexico. Usually when you call your bank and inform them that you are on the country the bank will lift up this restriction. My bank though, Bank of Cyprus, only would allow me a 30 minute window. So I just opted to go to the banks directly and withdraw money.  Too hot but short heavy showers... Established that too. Burger king 40% more expensive that the states! Established that also! That's way too expensive for Mexico! Given the fact that you can eat at a café/restaurant for 100 pesos and a whopper was around that price too!

But life here is so cheap! Accommodation only at about 7€, while in the states I was paying around 25!

Mexican food is really nice and Mexicans chop everything into small pieces. It is delicious but can not have it on permanent basis for long term.

Mexicans are quite friendly although I did not have too much interaction with locals. They can be a bit overwhelming when trying to sell you something but it was not that bad. Food and life is cheap.

Cancun is a cheap place to live. Accommodation was around 7 euros. Food extremely cheap, especially when you know where to go. A decent Mexican meal from the plaza would cost just merely 1.60 euros.

Their buses are quite decent with 8 pesos each way (60cents) but no bus stops signs although you can figure it out from the people waiting on the street. But the drivers are fearless.

Once, when we were going to the beach, Mat, one of the guys of the hostel, got in the bus first, he was still paying and I got up the steps behind him and behind me was a Korean guy from the hostel as well. So the bus starts moving while Mat was paying and I was like shit, the Korean guy? I turn back and the poor guy was with one foot in and the other on the air. The driver kept driving in the traffic, taking money, giving ticket and change and driving. And there are no machines on the buses that give ticket. Is all done manually by the driver!

Overall I had a great time in Cancun. Everything was very good.

And this was my Cancun experience! Best time I had in a hostel thus far. Great mix of people and characters and some very nice ones.  Ended up staying 3 nights more but was worth it.

Overall I had a great time in Cancun. Everything was very good.

And this was my Cancun experience! Best time I had in a hostel thus far. Great mix of people and characters and some very nice ones.  Ended up staying 3 nights more but was worth it.
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