Showing posts from July, 2009

Toilet Travel Tips, Laviators and other Weirdness

So I'm back after the wildly fun and intriguing Blogher and TBEX conferences. Fun because I got to meet all my travel tweeps in person and intriguing because the ideas and discussions flowed non-stop. One of my fave discussions was with Heather of Gadling's Galley Gossip and her Laviators mile high headshots club. You see, lots of activities take place in airplane bathrooms than just mile high club activities. Heather believes that I'll soon be joining her exclusive group but it's just not happening cause the fly in fly girl doesn't stand for sky trippin' bathroom antics. But when I spied the Poo-Pourri personal wipes (fresh and clean for in between!) pictured above in our TBEX swag, I figured that bathroom banter might make a helpful travel tip post. Because I'm surrounded by a crazy amount of anal virgo friends, I know that there are lots of travelers that dread strange public toilets, nasty sinkholes passing for restrooms and the hellish scene of port

El Otro Lado :The Other Side of Cozumel

If your image of Cozumel involves cruise ships, hordes of tequila-drenched tourists and pushy t-shirt vendors, you're not alone. That was exactly my experience the last time I was in Cozumel but that was because I had never reached el otro lado . The other side is the undeveloped, east side of Cozumel. It's covered with a 20 mile stretch of coastline with huge waves, pale-sand beaches and exposed coral shelves. Palm trees wave and pearly sand beckons you to sink your feet in. Blow holes push out shooting cascades of glistening water. Every weekend, locals go out on boats and call to dolphins by tapping the side of the boats. The dolphins appear and swim playfully along. A cross guards Punta Morena and it seems to spread a tranquil vibe across the entire area. You can go hours without seeing anybody except a few surfers and divers. Cruise ship patrons rarely make it to this side of Cozumel because of the the time involved and lack of tourist amenities like resorts, WiFi or a Sen

Mexican Standoff

This living statue was the lively focal point of Cozumel's Plaza Central. Most major cities attract performers that spray paint themselves bronze or silver and stand stiffly like a statue, busting out with dance moves or gestures just when you thought they were real statues. This man presented some clever shimmies and turns to the live cumbia music playing by a band in the plaza. I really enjoyed Plaza Central, which is Cozumel's main downtown plaza. With colonial architecture splashed in vibrant shades of yellow, pink, orange and turquoise, the area oozes tropical charm. A cluster of shops sell handcrafted huipi les or traditional Mayan dresses, hammocks, Cuban cigars and fanciful figurines. Vendors hawk churros and cotton candy and kids skip and run through the square. What I liked most was watching the local teens dance and flirt under the dramatic Mexican sunset.

Cozumel Comida

Mexican cuisine is rich and varied enough to warrant extensive culinary tours. And I'm not talking about tacos and tequila. Each region boasts its own dishes, spices and drinks. The Yucatan Peninsula, where Cozumel is located, displays a particularly diverse cuisine due to centuries of isolation from the mainland and influences from the Caribbean and Europe. I conducted some research on Cozumel cuisine on my plane trip down. Alex, my seat mate, supplied me with a list of all the essential Cozumel dishes including salbutes , pescado tikinxic and cilaquiles con pollo . More on those later, my first sample of the seafood-focused cuisine was heavenly grilled grouper with coconut and mango sauce with fried plantains pictured above. It was so delicious that I received Park Royal Hotel's very first doggie bag so that I enjoyed the rest for breakfast. A tempting array of appetizer's at Park Royal's Mexican restaurant included salbutes , a popular street food of half-fried corn

Rasta Love, Mexican Style

It's amusing to see the fascination with rastafarian culture on my travels. There seems to exist a universal pull towards Bob Marley, reggae, locks and Jamaican patois. Of course, the stereotypes can sometimes be irritating but I found the tribute to rasta culture at Cozumel's Paradise Cafe to be charming. Located on the quiet East side of the island, Paradise Cafe, often called Bob Marley Cafe, displays a pretty good painting of Bob, along with a laid-back vibe and tongue-in-cheek attitude. This rasta sign kind of sums up the general feel of the cafe and beach. Freedom to lounge, surf, eat or sprawl in a hammock while reggae floats through the background, sounds like a reasonable idea for paradise. I didn't meet any rastas however and suspect they're scarce on tiny Cozumel. Inside the cafe, the walls are scrawled with signatures, drawings, handmade signs and a big banner promoting the cafe's famous shrimp quesadillas. I'm allergic to shellfish so I co

Cozumel Bonita

Cozumel offers the quintessential island experience. Located on the eastern tip of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, the tiny island is just 30 miles long and 10 miles wide. There's nothing flashy or loud about Cozumel, it reflects a quiet beauty that encourages you to come closer. Covered in bamboo, cedar and palm trees, orchids, red ginger and plumeria as well as white sand beaches lining jade waters, the island glows with natural beauty. I've been to Cozumel (briefly) before and was not impressed. The beaches were rocky and crowded with drunk cruise ship tourists. I didn't appreciate the aggressive hawking of souvenirs or that all the locals spoke to travellers in English, not even a "Como Esta?" could be heard. It was like my worst Cancun nightmare on a smaller scale. But when I was invited on a Cozumel media trip for Royal Holiday resorts, I decided to give the island another chance and I'm glad I did. I saw another side of Cozumel that revealed it's Ma