Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tuesday November 18th

Mayan Expedition

Time again for some travel and this time I will visit my first "Wonder of the Modern World" since I created that Travel-To-Do-list.
I am heading for Mexico and Chichen Itza.

I took a flight to London Heathrow and met up with my friend Henrik who will join this trip. This is the first time we travel together so this will be interesting.

At Heathrow we took a flight to New York (JFK) where we "only" had two hours to transfer to our next flight. And two hours is short when you are in US so we got an Express Connection Card (first time for both of us! And I got a flash back to the TV series "The Amazing Race"  :)
This gave us a little advantage at the security gate at least.
Then we got on our last flight for today, heading toward Cancun.

We arrived in Mexico at around 22:50 and I did not expect sun at this hour - but we were met by...rain?
This was not included in my plans for a visit to Mexico.   :-/

We took a taxi straight to the hotel; The Courtyard Marriott. We got room 447:

Tomorrow we will head for the Chichen Itza area!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wednesday November 19th

Woke up at 6am and could not sleep again. At around 7:30 we went down for breakfast.

After checking out, we went to the bus station to get a bus to Chichen Itza. We got tickets (around 80 SEK/person) to a bus leaving twenty minutes later (10:40). It is still raining, but after leaving Cancun it stopped and was just greyish. No sun at all today.

After a four hour looong bus ride we got to the Chichen Itza bus stop. A taxi ride later we arrived at our stay for the night; The lodge at Chichen Itza.

This place is AMAZING!

They put us and our luggage on a small (golf)car and drove us to our bungalow (called Percival 5B). Oh, and we have a pool just outside.

After a quick swim in the pool, we were talking by the pool when the hotel staff brought us a plate of welcome food & drinks. Good stuff.

At evening we went to a (small) 'Mayan Skies' Planetarium show at the hotel, which...could have been better.

Then it was time for dinner. By the palm trees and pool.
We had some shrimp soup(ish) in a melon as starter and I had some turkey & ground beef in champagne souce. It wasn't too bad. :)

Unfortunatly our bungalow is too far from the main reception to have wifi so right now I am sitting in the bar, writing this (and drinking Pina Colcodas).

Tomorrow it's time for Chichen Itza!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thursday November 20th

Time to do what we are here for; Chichen Itza!

After breakfast at the hotel, we meet up with our guide (Victor!) in the reception.

He took us through the rear entry of Chichen Itza (about 100 meters from our hotel) and showed us the sights.

Among the different temples and ruins we naturally saw the Kukulkan:

We also made some noise and listened to the echos on the field.

We went to the sacret well where the Rain God lives:

Here we have the ball court where the ancient ball game called Pok-A-Tok.
Think you can get the ball through the hop on the side..? You better or your head might come off.

The very old observatory where the Mayan sky watchers roamed:

It was getting warmer and warmer during the tour (I am glad we started early!), but when the sun was peaking, it was time to make it to the bus again and back to Cancun.

After a bus ride where we mostly dozed off, we took a taxi to our next hotel where we will stay until our departure; the JW Marriott hotel.

If our last hotel excelled in a close-to-nature-nice experience, this one seems to excelled all over.
We even get a $50 per night refund to spend at any of the restaurants (including breakfast) here.

It's dark outside now, but the view seems to be great. More picture of it will be delivered tomorrow, but here is a pix of our room (1220):

We had dinner at one of the restaurants in the hotel area; Champions. A sports bar where we watched a NFL game. Henrik seemed pleased with the result.

Now bed.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Friday November 21th

We woke up at 7am and went (almost) straight to a taxi that took us to the pier where we hopped (after a 40 minutes wait) to a boat.

This boat will take us to Isla Mujeres and to the Dolphin Discovery. Yes, we are about to swim with dolphins.

Before going here, we checked out a few of these places in Cancun and Dolphin Discovery felt like they knew their business and took care of the dolphins - and the environment.
Their animals did also not swim in regular pools, but in the ocean inside a wharf.

However the boat ride to the island was more like a youth party boat. Free drinks and party music. Didn't feel totally aligned with our expectations.

Once on the island confusion reigned. Apparently they had overbooked, so we could not go on the planned early dolphin swim.
As compensation they let us do some other swims before a new dolphin time opened up.

We got to swim with sharks (it was less exciting than it sounds, the sharks just lay on the bottom of the pool area - but still SHARKS!), feed and pat manatees and meet/pat a sea lion.

Fun stuff, especially the manatees since we got so close with them.

Then finally; the dolphins. We got in the pool by the ocean and got to meet our dolphins.

After some patting we got to ride with them by holding their fins and got lifted up from the water (and pushing us forward!) by pressing their noses against our feet!

We also got to kiss them. :)

After the dolphins we travelled to another place on the island, called Garrafon. It's a place with different activities, relaxing - and free food and drinks.
We did some zip-lining (first time for us both!) and a short snorkelling (first time for me!).
Zip-lining was fun, but the snorkelling wasn't so rewarding - it wasn't so much to see in the waters here.

The general impression of Garrafon wasn't the best and could have been avoided if we knew.
Then we relaxed by the bar (with not very good-tasting drinks) until the boat came to bring us back to Cancun.

Still the party boat according to the crew. I think it was only two Brazilian guys actually partying and the rest of us was just tired from the long and exciting day and wanted to get home.

However we got back to the hotel at around 7pm to freshen up.

When arriving at our room our lovely maid Alicia had made this for us:
She had also made some arrangement on my bed with a bathrobe and chocolate. Very nice of her.
However there was nothing at Henriks bed. At all.
This was his topic of discussion the rest of the evening. He couldn't stop thinking why he didn't get any attention from her.

For dinner we went to an Owl Restaurant, which was as bad as expected. Afterwards we went to the hotel again, despite numeral suggestions from bouncers from different clubs (and "spas").

And speaking of the hotel, some more pictures!
We live at the 12th floor. The hotel has 13 floors as can be seen on this picture from the elevator:

Here is the view from the balcony.
Sweet, heh?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saturday November 22th

Finally slept in to day with no real plans.
We did think about going to Tulum for the day, but with this hotel - it's a crime not to use it.

So after the magnificent hotel breakfast we went outside in the hotel area to sit in a chair, getting some shadow to read and relax.

After not too long we went down to the ocean for the obligatory dip in the ocean.

While being down on the beach we decided to go parasailing - because why not?

So we went with Parasail Center ($60 / person) and first rode on a jetski to get to the boat (boarding while both crafts are moving fast forward - interesting! :)).

The jetski experience was easy to get addicted to...

Unfortunately the wind wasn't strong enough today, so me and Henrik had to go up one at a time.
They hauled me out of the boat and up in the air. I topped at about 100 meters - sitting in this small harness...
I could see pretty far - and the roofs of most hotels nearby.
On the way down they (purposely) dipped me in the ocean as well. Very smooth and refreshing. :)

Then Henrik went up in the air. He seems to enjoy himself also.

Back via the jetski - and on the beach again!

All in all, it was a fun experience - and not at all scary as one might think. It was very calm and beautiful up there!

Then we chilled on the hotel area again, drinking some drinks, eating snacks, swimming in the pools and reading for a few hours - until it was time to get a massage.

I wanted one - and I convinced Henrik also to get one.

80 minutes later, relaxed (and around 1300 SEK/persons less in the wallet) we were suppose to join up. But I waited 20 minutes - and no Henrik.
So I went to our room, but no Henrik there either.

About an hour later he finally showed up (just as I was going to make a full search with headlights and hotel staff).
For some reason he got a longer massage than me so I just missed him after my wait - and he was down at the spa waiting for me.
But finally he did something sensible and checked the room.

Then, finally dinner (at 9pm)!
We went to another hotel restaurant; Mikado for some Japanese food. We got a cook that made and served the food for us by the table. Very cool.

The food was also very nice. As was the sake!

Before heading for the room again, we went to buy some water and stuff in a nearby 7/11. On the way back we got to star gaze a bit on the beautiful starlit heaven.

Now blog - and sleep.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sunday November 23th

Another lazy day.

We woke up, went down to the beach for a quick swim. Sat by the pool to dry up - and then went for breakfast.
Then for round two by the beach / hotel area for some more swimming, relaxing by the pool, reading.
I have had worse mornings in my life... :)

Today is game day. Henrik has been looking forward to this the whole trip.
We went to an Outback restaurant to watch some american football and to eat & drink.
Both our teams won today so it turned out pretty good!
(I like american football, Henrik looooves it).

Back to the hotel again, relaxing. We went out to the pools with some ice cream to chill out and listen to the ocean. Very calming.

Tomorrow it's time to go home again. That is the way vacations usually ends.
But I think we will be able to do at least one more swim in the ocean and/or pool! :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Monday November 24th

Time to go home.

We took our time to go to breakfast (one of my favourite parts of the breakfast is to tell the waiter that I want "Tea. Earl Grey. Hot"  :)

Pack the last things, check out at noon - and taxi to the airport. There we were met by our old Mexican friend Chaos; several lines to the bag drop, every line went to every desk. Everyone stayed to long for a simple bag drop at the desks.
It felt like we should have gone to the airport 24 hours before the departure to make it - but somehow we did anyway.

We had a two hour flight to Miami, then the transatlantic over-night flight to Heathrow...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tuesday November 25th

At Heathrow it was time for me and Henrik to part ways.
He went back to Stockholm and I had a waiting time of seven ours before my departure to Gothenburg.

It was a long wait, but at around 19:00 hours I landed in Gothenburg. It was the end of a 21 hours journey.

Time to pack up my suitcase - and get ready for work tomorrow. The Normal Days are here again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mayan Expedition Report

Mexico. Chichen Itza. Cancun. Dolphins.
Time to make a summery of this wonderful trip.

First of all I travelled with a new companion. I didn't think we would have any real problems, but it still went surprisingly well. No problem at all really (thank you Henrik!)

Chichen Itza was the main thing of the trip and it was very nice to see it. I didn't expect it to be a major wow-experience (and it was not), but it was very satisfying to finally see it (and I highly do recommend going there!).

I did however expect me too see more of Mexico in general and Cancun in particular. The bus trip to/from Chichen Itza did put us slightly off the regular tourist track, but that was it really.
We never got to explore Cancun for instance. It's a small regret.

But what kept us from doing so was the magnificent J.W. Marriott Hotel, which must have been the nicest hotel I have ever stayed at (even topping Kempinski in Budapest - there are no oceans in Budapest).
Staying more than expected in this hotel was a good choice still.

Some general thoughts are that pretty much all taxis in Cancun smelled petrol (do they all have a direct line from the gas tank to the passenger seat?) - what's up with that?

Also everything was damp in Cancun. Like the toilet paper.

A good thing about the trip (maybe even the best?  :)   I didn't see one single spider! Huzzah for that! :D

Highlights of the trip was seeing Chichen Itza of course, the dolphin swim - and the hotel pool area (and I am reeeeally not the relaxing-on-vacation-guy). I could even think about going back here - to the same hotel.

As for the cost of the whole trip, the total sum was around 21.000 SEK.
I would say it's fair for a week vacation on another continent including some very luxurious hotel nights.

Stay tuned for my next trip! Which is probably not until late-summer/autumn 2015.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Thursday April 24th

Some Rocks and the Doctor

Finally it's that time again when yours truly heads out for another adventure in the world!
Where to this time you ask?

Well, the Doctor is not a reference to me being ill the last couple of days (and still am - although it's better now).
Then Who? Exactly that!

But the rocks comes first and is the main reason for this whole trip.

At TooEarly o'clock I got up and went to the airport; took a flight to Heathrow and from there a quick jump to London with the Heathrow Express and on a train to Salisbury where I continued on a bus.

Where I am going? To one of the 21's! Stonehenge!

I got off the bus at the Visitor Centre where they have a museum, café - and not surprisingly - a gift shop, but you can not actually see the main attraction from there.
You need to either walk or take a short bus trip to get there.

I've wanted to see Stonehenge for a long time and was excited, but talking to friends who had been here had toned down my expectations a lot.
But this was good, because what I saw topped my (low) expectations - and that's always better than the opposite.  :)

I walked around the rocks, took photos aaaand that's it really.

Even though it's fun to see, there really isn't that much more to do (unless you want to walk the around the countryside).

So I went back to the Visitor centre, took a peek in the museum and headed back to Salisbury.

My plan was to continue on directly, but then I heard that they have a original Magna Carta in the cathedral here (only 4 of 13 left and this is one in best shape of the four). So I looked at it (no photo's allowed in there so follow the link above if you want to see it) and at the outside of the cathedral.

It was a nice a large cathedral and apparently was spared from German raids during WWII because they used it as a landmark to orient themselves when flying over the English countryside...

Then back on the train and continuing to Cardiff, the capital of Wales!
I got here at around seven in the evening and first checked in at my hotel (Radison Blu close to the train station). I got room 312:

But I went out straight away and took a short stroll in the inner city, went passed the Cardiff Castle and then to a pub (The Cottage?) and got some food and a pint.
It wasn't too bad.

Back to the hotel I realized that I brought my old iPhone charger with me (I am going to blame it on me being ill before leaving and didn't noticed it in my fever deliriums I had while packing).
But I'll buy a new one tomorrow so I can charge my phone (and upload the pictures to my computer (and this site).

Now time for bed. Exciting day tomorrow as well!