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Mexico City

Quintana Roo
Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Cancun
« Last edited by cgr on January 29, 2024, 09:16:32 PM »

Author Topic: A Week in Mexico  (Read 2404 times)

Offline cgr

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A Week in Mexico
« on: January 29, 2024, 09:12:19 PM »
Once again, I found myself planning a last-minute trip, which is totally unlike me. In the second week of December, I realized that I had hundreds of dollars’ worth of credit card perks expiring at year end, and anything unused on 12/31 would be forfeited. My husband and I decided to squeeze in a trip the following week, with the goal of using as many of the expiring credits as possible, in addition to using points wherever possible. We did a pretty good job of keeping the trip cash-cheap (although we ate out every single night which ended up costing us close to $1k just for food) and managed to use almost all of our expiring credits. As is usual with my trips, we traveled just with carry-ons, to save on baggage-check fees, and to be more mobile.

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Mexico City
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2024, 09:12:50 PM »
We flew EWR to MEX via United, booked using 42.3k United miles + $44.92 per person. While the price for this ticket in miles was more than I would have liked, as it is sometimes available as Saver Award for just 17.5k miles via United or 10k miles via Turkish (!), since the trip was so last-minute no Saver Award space was available.

I pre-purchased parking at EWR via SpotHero at the Parking Point for $35, quite cheap for a week, but upon arrival we were charged an additional $40 for having an “oversized” vehicle (mid-size SUV). It was especially upsetting as the nearby ARB Parking was only a few dollars more on SpotHero, and they do not charge oversize fees.

The lines at TSA in Terminal C weren’t too long, and Clear in conjunction with TSA Precheck took 7 minutes from start to finish, including two extra minutes for Clear as the agent had me do NextGen verification (it appears that Clear is updating their system, and I had to reinput some of my information and biometrics). We then headed to the United Club (C123), which was quiet and empty- they had kosher snacks available upon request such as nuts and cookies (pareve). Our flight took off from EWR on schedule at 6:40AM and landed in Mexico City International Airport 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Similar to the US, Mexico requires all passengers to clear immigration and collect baggage prior to proceeding to any onward flights. While most US passengers can exit immigration electronically by scanning their passports, my passport was not cooperating and kept returning an error, so I had to head over to an agent, which lucky for me meant that I got a Mexican stamp in my passport😊.

At the start of our trip the exchange rate was MX$17.19/$1, and we exchanged some cash at the airport for MX$16.90/$1, although once we made it into the city proper, we saw some cash exchanges offering rates of MX$17 to MX$17.10, which we later utilized. I had read online that Uber is dirt cheap in Mexico City, so without looking into the local competitors, I ordered one at the airport to get us to our hotel. While the fare was not expensive by NY standards at MX$219 ($12.74) for 35 minutes, I later learned that the local ride-hailing apps are cheaper and have more cars available. I found it interesting that taxis weren’t more expensive, as gas was around $5/gallon.

On the way to our hotel, we bumped into this fellow, just chilling on his garbage truck.



We had booked the Hotel NH Collection Mexico City Reforma for two nights, and while we would have rather chosen a hotel in Polanco, which is the Jewish neighborhood where most of the kosher food in Mexico City is located, we booked this hotel using the $200 Amex Platinum Hotel Collection credit, which made the Ubering back and forth worth it. While our room was not ready when we arrived at the hotel at 12:15PM (official checkin is at 3PM), they had it ready for us 30 minutes later, and we were upgraded to a Junior Suite along with a $100 hotel credit, which we didn’t have an opportunity to utilize, as the spa was not covered by the credit. The room was spacious but simple, with a good shower, and the staff provided us with unlimited bottled water during our stay.

Thankfully the weather was beautiful during our stay, even with a constant pollution haze, with temps in the low 70s during the day. While it did get colder at night, a sweater was enough to keep us warm. The only bothersome part was the dry air, which caused our lips to swell up and peel, although ChapSticks took care of the worst of it.

The streets of Mexico City are hazy, smelly, and noisy, and the traffic between 11AM and 11PM is crazy. There is a strong police presence in all touristy areas, and we never once felt unsafe on this trip. After a short nap, we headed out for a walking tour of Mexico City, which I had booked via GuruWalk (https://www.guruwalk.com/walks/14861-the-original-free-walking-tour-historic-downtown).

Our tour started at the Plaza de la Constitución, which is a large square with lots going on such as street vendors and entertainers.







We then headed behind the square to the Templo Mayor de México-Tenochtitlan, which is an ancient temple built by the Aztecs and destroyed by the Spanish conquistadors.



Our guide also stopped by the building which housed Mexico City’s Spanish Inquisition staff. Although the inquisition was not very active in Mexico and was mainly used by local monks to get rid of their competition, 29 individuals were executed as Judaizers.



We made several stops to notable buildings such as the Museo Nacional de Arte and the Palacio de Mineria.





The Casa de los Azulejos/House of Tiles.



Our last stop on the walking tour was at the magnificent Palacio de Bellas Artes.



GuruWalk tours are free, with an optional tip based on performance. We enjoyed our walking tour and tipped our guide $20 for the 2.5 tour (most tours list the average tip, so that travelers know what is expected). After saying goodbye to our guide, we tried getting an Uber to take us to Plaza Garibaldi, but there were no cars available. After a few minutes we realized that Plaza Garibaldi is just a 10-minute walk from the Palacio de Bellas Artes, so we decided to walk. Note that if you google this most travel blogs will not recommend walking, as the neighborhood is not considered the safest, but we did not feel unsafe at any point.

Plaza Garibaldi is the place to go if you’re looking for a Mariachi, a band of musicians playing Mexican music. The plaza was quieter than I thought it would be, but the Mariachis were still fun. We purchased one song for MX$200 ($11.60) that was played by a band of 6, and then we hung around for another 30 minutes listening to Mariachis purchased by others (this is standard practice in the square).





At this point, we were more than ready for dinner, and I started searching for an Uber again, but the prices seemed way too high for our trip distance. After a quick google search on local ride-hailing cabs, I realized that we had been overpaying by using Uber and downloaded Cabify and Didi. While Cabify has a very small presence in Mexico City, Didi has a large footprint and is much cheaper than Uber. Our Cabify from Plaza Garibaldi to Gaucho Grill cost us MX$276 ($16), while Uber wanted MX$399 for the same trip. This is the only time we used Cabify on this trip, as Didi ended up being cheaper and more easily available every other time.

Prior to our trip we had done some research on hechsheirim in Mexico City, and we felt that KMD was up to our standards. We used https://kosher.com.mx/establecimientos to find restaurants that are under their hashgacha.

The food at Gaucho Grill was ok, not very good but not bad, although the service here was incredible. This was our first food stop in Mexico, and we learnt here that Mexicans eat soft-shelled tacos, which was not to our liking. They’re served in a cloth bag to keep them warm, and the smell is less than pleasant…


Onion soup


Empanada


Tacos 1


Tacos 2


Chocolate Souffle

The next morning, we started with breakfast at Sinai Deli & Bakery in Polanco. The décor here is severely lacking and the service less than efficient, but the food was ok, and the pastries delicious. From here we headed to Teotihuacán, an archaeological complex with large “pyramids” which is fascinating for any history geek.

Teotihuacán is located an hour from Mexico City, but instead of taking an organized tour, which makes a full day trip out of it by stopping at some other attractions which were of no interest to us, we decided to make our own way. We ordered a Didi, which was MX$411 ($23.90) for the one-hour drive, and we had to pay tolls directly which was another MX$102 ($5.90). The way from Mexico City to Teotihuacán was mostly through what seemed to be slums that looked similar to Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. Interestingly, each mountain community is accessible to the nearby mountain community by chairlift.



The entry fee to Teotihuacán is MX$90/pp, and as soon as we entered, we were accosted by tour guides offering their services. Most of them wanted MX$2,500 for the two of us for a 3-hour guided tour, which we felt was overpriced based on our online research. Unfortunately, we were unable to find any cheaper guides, and while we kept our eyes open for a group forming which would have brought down the price, we did not find another English-speaking group, and ended up buying a guidebook for MX$50 which we read on our own pace. This is perhaps the one upside of taking a pre-arranged tour straight from Mexico City, as it would have included a guide as well.

In the parking lot we came across a group of entertainers performing Mariachi while hanging upside-down from a pole.





We strolled along the Avenue of the Dead, which runs through Teotihuacán, and is lined with vendors selling all sorts of souvenirs. They make an annoying ruckus by all trumpeting the same intensely irritating whistle (sounds like a dying animal vocalizing).





Our first stop was at The Citadel/ Temple of the Feathered Serpent.





While a bit of a walk and away from the general bustle of the Avenue of the Dead, we found the Museo de la Cultura Teotihuacana interesting. It explains the history and layout of the site and has some interesting artifacts from local archeological digs.




די רבי מיטן שטריימל

Near the museum there’s the Teotihuacán Gardens,





and right behind it is the magnificent Pyramid of the Sun.



From there it’s just a short walk back to the Avenue of the Dead, and to the final pyramid on the road, the Pyramid of the Moon.



We had a phenomenal time exploring the complex, and while the guidebook was probably less informative than a guide would have been, we still had a great time. The temps were in the high 60s and low 70s, so we weren’t too bothered by the sun, but we both ended up red-faced with sunburn- I highly recommend wearing sunblock at Teotihuacán, as the sun is very strong here in the desert. Teotihuacán was definitely one of the highlights of our trip, and we ended up spending over 3.5 hours here.

We had no difficulties finding a Didi, which cost us MX$383 ($22.20) for the 1:15 drive back- there were tolls of MX$102 ($5.90) heading back to the city as well.

After a quick stop at our hotel to get some more cash, we headed to the Museo Nacional de Antropología which is considered on of the best museums in Mexico City (according to some online sources, Mexico City has more museums than any other city in the world), so we had pretty high expectations. For some reason entry was free that day, but we ended up only spending 45 minutes here, as the place mostly consists of archaeological artifacts, which my husband quickly bored of.

After being on our feet all day, we were more than ready to head to dinner. We got a Didi to take us to Polanco- that’s when I noticed that Didi was changing the price from the quoted fare after each ride. It turns out that Didi’s prices aren’t locked in, but they do have an option of requesting a refund if the pricing changes, so we ended up doing that for all our trips. They refunded the difference on the spot, and even though it was a pain to remember each time to request it, it was still worth it because they were so much cheaper than Uber. Dinner that night was at the incredible Auguri Kosher Trattoria- this is the #1 restaurant I have ever eaten at. Auguri has an interesting menu, with the main fare being Italian, and two sub-menus, one branded Kosher Bamboo for Asian cuisine, and one branded Burger House for sandwiches. All food is out of the same kitchen, and you can order from all menus. Every item we ordered was a solid 5/5. While the food is not cheap, it’s by no means as expensive as its equivalent in NYC would be (we paid $165 for the items pictured below, including tax and tip). Auguri has the best kosher food in Mexico City by far.


Minestrone Soup


Matzah Ball Soup


Salmon Carpaccio


Honey Crispy Chicken


Pasta Arrabbiata


Pulled Brisket Sandwich


Chocolate Volcano

The next morning, after checking out and storing our bags at the hotel’s front desk, we headed to Ajla Gourmet Polanco for breakfast. The food was great, and we got some pastries to go which were delicious as well.


Pita with Olives and Cheese


Three Cheese Panini

We then headed to Chapultepec Castle, which is one of only two “real” Castles in North America, as it was inhabited by a monarch (the other “real” castle is located in Mexico City as well). We greatly enjoyed our time here, as the Castle houses a military museum,





the alcazar palace,





and great views of the park and city,





so it really has something for everyone. We ended up spending two hours here.

Weirdly enough the public restrooms in Chapultepec Park were not free- there was a MX$5 charge to enter the bathroom, and no, it was not maintained any better than the free bathrooms in the US (if anything it was worse).

Next, we headed to Xochimilco, which is a borough located about an hour from Mexico City, comprised mostly of canals.





We paid MX$308 ($17.90) for the 1-hour ride to the embarcadero nativitas docks. There are several places to board gondolas, but based on our research this is the largest one, and the one where you’re the least likely to get ripped off (yeah, right). There is a large board at the docks listing the price per gondola as MX$600 per hour (you can fit 20-30 people onto one gondola, so the larger the group, the cheaper per person), so it doesn’t really matter which gondola you go with. We were immediately met by a “gondola agent” who offered us a 2-hour ride for MX$1,000. We felt that 2 hours was too long and decided to go for a 1.5-hour ride. The agent quoted us a price of MX$900, which we agreed to. We boarded the boat he assigned to us and had an enjoyable ride along the canals.





There are hundreds of other boats on the water, and many vendor boats as well selling souvenirs, beer, food, and of course Mariachis. At one point we hired a Mariachi to come aboard our boat and serenade us😊

Our troubles started when our gondola operator pulled back into the docks after just one hour on the canals. He didn’t speak much English, so we tried explaining to him via Google translate that we had paid for 1.5 hours, and so still had another 30 minutes left on our ride. He insisted that 1.5 hours had passed, and when I showed him that it wasn’t possible by pulling up our Didi trip which showed that we had only arrived 1.5-hours prior, and that we took our time strolling along the dock prior to hiring a boat, he insisted that the Didi confirmation was proof of his claim, rather than the other way around. He was starting to get a bit aggressive in his hand motions, so we decided to disembark and try to find the agent that had taken our cash and assigned us to a boat. After walking around for over 30 minutes in an effort to find him, and asking several other agents if they knew him and where we might locate him, we eventually gave up and got a Didi to take us back to the city. I’m not sure if this is an organized scam these agents and drivers run, or if the driver just decided that it was a good day to rip us off, but it definitely left a sour taste in my mouth.

We headed to the Mercado de Artesanías La Ciudadela- there are several popular markets in Mexico City, but we chose this one a) because they close later than most, and b) because we thought it would be cool to observe some of the local handcrafted goods. No vendor sells the exact same thing as his neighbor, as the items are handmade and therefore original.



From the market we took a Didi to the hotel to pick up our bags, as we were sleeping in a different hotel for our final night in the city. Once we had our bags, we made our way to Polanco to Pecorino Kosher for dinner. The food here was good and the service was great, but unlike every other restaurant we had eaten in so far in Mexico City, the place was at full capacity.


Mushroom Soup


Fettuccini Alfredo


Pizza




Tiramisu

After a filling meal we headed towards the airport, to the Holiday Inn Express Mexico Basilica. Prior to our trip we hadn’t been aware that there is almost no morning traffic in Mexico City and being worried about having to sit in traffic for an hour with a plane to catch, we decided to sleep close to the airport on our last night. We didn’t find anything to suit our requirements very close to the airport, but this was reasonably close and met our needs. Even though I’m a Platinum IHG member they did not provide an upgrade, and the room was sparsely decorated- almost dorm like. Additionally, the shower was more of a trickle than a stream, but we made do for one night.

While we awoke on time Thursday morning, everything ended up taking longer than expected, and our Uber only arrived at 9AM. I was antsy, as our flight was scheduled to depart at 9:55AM, and I did not have high hopes for us making it. Thankfully there was no traffic, so we made it to Terminal 2 at MEX airport by 9:18AM. I nearly had a conniption when I spotted the security lines- the place was a total balagan, with more of a crowd waiting to pass security than orderly lines. Even with the huge crowd security did not end up taking as long as expected, and we were through by 9:35. After spending a few precious minutes waiting for the departure board to cycle to our flight, since we had not been assigned a gate on our boarding pass or online, we rushed to Hall B. The agent was kind enough to calm us down and assure us that the plane would wait for us, and then led us to Gate 10, which was located below Hall B, and accessible via a security gate in Hall B. Once we made it to the gate we really calmed down, as there was still a crowd of passengers at the gate waiting for a bus for transport to the plane. While the departure was delayed by about 25 minutes, the flight was uneventful, and we landed 1:45 minutes later in Cozumel International Airport.

Offline cgr

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Quintana Roo
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2024, 09:13:36 PM »
Cozumel

Cozumel International Airport is a small airport, and we walked from the tarmac to the terminal. The first thing that hit us upon exiting the plane was the humidity. While the temperatures were bearable, in the low 80Fs, the humidity was a shock after the dry air in Mexico City.

Currently, there are no ride-hailing apps allowed in the state of Quintana Roo, so for the remainder of our trip we were at the mercy of the unionized local taxi services (although this might change in Cancun soon). We inquired how much a cab would be from the airport to Cozumel Chabad, expecting prices along the lines that we had seen in Mexico City, but the prices were eye-watering (comparably), and remained this way for the remainder of our trip. We ended up taking a shared shuttle instead, which was cheaper than a cab at MX$100 per person for the 5-minute ride. After dropping our bags at Chabad and saying hi to the lively bochurim there, we headed to Chocolatte Espresso Bar-kosher for lunch. The food was good, but the prices were closer to those you find in NY (this was the case for the remainder of our trip as well).



Our one planned hike on this trip was in Cozumel, starting at the Villa Maya Nature Reserve in the island’s interior, and hiking from there to the Zona Arqueologica San Gervasio to view the ruins. After realizing that ride-hailing was going to be more complicated than we thought and knowing that we wouldn’t be able to find a cab once we were done with the hike, as it is located in an uninhabited area, we stopped by a taxi stand to see what they could offer us. One driver there suggested that he would drive us there, wait for us in the area for as long as we wanted him to, and then drive us back, for MX$1,000 ($58). I was a bit put off by the price, but since we had nothing else planned, we decided to go for it. Just as we headed out, the driver got a call from dispatch that the road leading to interior of the island was closed for the day, and that there were no alternatives. While I was disappointed with this turn of events, especially as this was our only planned hike on this trip, we decided to stroll around the city and make the most of it.



Benito Juarez Park



Walking along the shoreline towards Playa Casitas.







We found a beach across from the Parque Municipal De Cozumel with great sunset views.



While there had been some rain showers forecasted for mid-afternoon they never materialized, but as soon as we got back to Chabad to get our bags, it started pouring and rained for a good 10 minutes.

For dinner we had reservations at the Fuego Restaurant Cozumel, which overlooks the water. While we had been unsure of the kashrus at first, the Chabad Rabbi in Cozumel told us that it was properly certified and not problematic- I suggest asking your LOR if you’re unsure. We had high expectations for the food here, but unfortunately it did not live up to the hype (it might have had something to do with the fact that after Auguri, we expected all highly rated establishments in Mexico to be earth shattering…). Not that the food was not good, but we had been expecting something more.


Mushroom Soup


Brisket Tacos


Amalfitan Spaghetti


Empanadas


Fuego Burger


Churros

Earlier in the day we had stopped by the ferry terminal to purchase tickets for the ferry to Playa del Carmen. The ferry runs every hour, alternating between agencies- we were warned by friends and family that one ferry boat operator has smoother running boats, while the other is extremely nausea-inducing, although no one could remember which one is supposed to be the smoother of the two. Since we wanted to stay in Cozumel as late as possible, and only one operator runs the last ferry of the day at 9PM, we opted for that one, which was the Ferry Ultramar Cozumel that day (some days the other operator, the orange one, will have the last boat, and some days it will be the Ultramar, which is the blue and yellow boats). The ticket agent buttered us up to get first class ferry tickets at MX$340 per person (about $39 for the both of us), instead of the regular class at MX$301 per person. First class allows you to board 15 minutes prior to departure, instead of having to be there 40 minutes prior to departure, and first-class passengers supposedly get access to more areas on the boat, although this did not seem to be the case, as all passengers roamed freely. We were so hyped up that the ride would be terrible (even if it was the “smoother” option) that we were both nauseous even before boarding the boat. We were told to sit towards the back of the boat if we were worried about motion sickness, and while the ride was a bit rocky, it wasn’t half as bad as expected. We made sure not to focus outside the boat, which would have been way worse as the rocking is much more pronounced when contrasted with the shoreline. There was live music on board which served as an added distraction, and we docked in Playa del Carmen with our food internally intact at 9:40PM.

Playa del Carmen

Taxis were easy to find outside the ferry terminal, but again the prices weren’t cheap as it is set by the taxi cartel (we paid MX$350, or $20, for the 12-minute drive from the ferry terminal to our hotel). In Playa there is a ride-hailing app, RadioTaxiPDC, but the prices aren’t competitive as it is the same preset prices the cab drivers utilize. The only upside to the app is being able to arrange pickup, but I wasn’t able to get my phone number verified- perhaps it only works with Mexican phone numbers? It wasn’t a big deal for us regardless, as we were able to hail a cab on the street whenever needed. I also noticed that from here on out, both in Playa del Carmen and in Cancun, everything is priced both in Mexican Peso and USD- slightly overpriced on the USD side, so you don’t need to exchange cash if you’re not bothered by the loss on the spread. At this point the exchange was MX$16.98/$1, but the local cash exchanges had pretty bad rates. On Avenida 5, which is the bustling avenue in Playa del Carmen, most exchanges were offering MX$16/$1 to MX$16.10/$1. The highest exchange offer we saw was MX$16.35/$1, at an exchange located on one of the side streets, off the main drag.

We checked into the Balkon Boutique Hotel, a cheap but decent hotel away from the hustle and bustle. Overall, we got good value for our money, but the shower was barely a trickle, and the room wasn’t well soundproofed, which meant that we could hear everyone passing through in the hallway, as well as noise from the street-facing balcony.

The next morning, Friday, was a fast day, and while I wasn’t fasting, my husband was, which meant that we didn’t have any activities planned for the day. After checking out of the hotel, we hailed a cab and made our way to our Shabbos hotel, The Yucatan Playa del Carmen All-Inclusive Resort, Tapestry by Hilton, for my worst Hilton experience to date. I had booked this hotel because I wanted to use my Hilton Aspire $250 annual resort credit, and the total for two nights at this hotel came out to just slightly more than that, which made it seem like a good deal. I emailed the hotel in advance regarding kosher food, but they replied that they were unable to accommodate, which was understandable. Upon check-in they informed us that our room rate only included one guest, and there would be an additional fee of $98 per day for my husband for the “all inclusive” experience. I tried explaining to them that a) we wouldn’t be eating any of their food and b) that as a Diamond member I’m entitled to 1 free guest, but they refused to budge. Instead of making a scene I decided to proceed with approving the charge, and deal with the issue with Hilton corporate after the trip. To make matters worse they refused to provide us with early check-in (regular check-in was at 3PM) or with a room upgrade, even though the desk agent acknowledged that they did have rooms available of a higher caliber. When we were finally assigned our room at 3PM it had a moldy/damp smell, and the shower had tepid water at best. On the (very slight) upside, they were courteous with opening our room door on Shabbos and granted our late checkout request of 1PM (regular checkout was at 12PM). I started a conversation about these issues with Hilton Diamond Guest Services soon after checkout, and they granted me 35k Hilton points, and mailed us a $100 check. While I was hoping for a full refund on the $196 in additional guest fees, and points for all our other troubles, I do feel like Hilton corporate made an effort to set things right.

After dropping off our bags at the hotel until our room was ready, we strolled along the bustling Avenida 5.



I stopped by Bake & Roll by Mas Pan for lunch, and while the food is good, the place is a bit shabby. They only accept cash, but you can pay in MEX or USD (and expect to pay NY level prices).



We then stopped by the Hilula bakery for challah and some other baked goodies, even though we had signed up at Chabad (yellow flag) for the meals, since we didn’t know if the food would be plentiful, and wanted to make sure we wouldn’t go hungry. The bakery is located on Avenida 20 between Calle 6 and Calle 8.



After heading back to the hotel and getting ready for Shabbos, we headed to Chabad Playa Del Carmen (https://chabadplaya.org/en/), for the meal. There were over 100 guests, lebedige singing and dancing, and copious amounts of food. Shabbos day was a slightly less noisy affair, but no less fun. The challah we had purchased before Shabbos went sadly untouched, as we were stuffed after both meals. On Shabbos afternoon we spent some time at the beach- note that while many beaches in Playa del Carmen are located behind hotel property, all beaches in Playa are legally public, and access cannot be restricted.

On Motzei Shabbos we stopped by a few tour offices on Avenida 5 to schedule an excursion for Sunday.



We had really hoped to do a tour of the Tulum ruins, followed by a Cenote (lake located in an underground cave), but sadly, other than Xcaret, an expensive amusement park which we had no interest in, no tours were available to anywhere in the vicinity, as it was Xmas Eve. I did find one tour available to Punta Laguna, which is a private island with a monkey reserve, for $380, but we decided that it was too expensive for just the few hours we had available, as we had to be in Cancun by 4PM Sunday for our flight back to NY.

We headed back to Bake & Roll by Mas Pan for a hearty melava malka.









Sunday, after a lazy start to our day, we headed to the Playa del Carmen Alterna bus terminal to catch a bus to Cancun. The line at the ticketing counter was out the door, so we missed several buses by the time we got our tickets. There are buses leaving every 10 to 20 minutes though, so we didn’t have a long wait. Our bus was scheduled for 1:40PM, was clean and comfortable, left on time, and we were in Cancun by 2:45PM, all for the price of MX$108 ($6.30) per person.



Cancun

Upon arriving at the central bus station in Cancun we got a cab to the Chabad Jewish Center of Cancun and dropped off our bags. We didn’t have a lot of time to kill, so we spent some time walking around Punta Cancun.



We then went for an early dinner to Ember Kosher- the service and ambience here was great, and the food was good. Being fed up with the inedible soft-shell tacos, we requested the chef do hard-shell tacos instead. The dish ended up resembling cigars more than tacos…


Ember Tacos


Beef Stew


Burger


Tex Mex Nachos


Chocolate Obsession

After a filling meal, our waiter hailed us a cab to take us to Terminal 3 at Cancun International Airport- the taxis in Cancun were overpriced, at MX$650 ($38) for the less than 30-minute ride, - for our flight back home with United. Cash tickets were dirt cheap back to EWR that day, so we booked these flights using our United Travel Bank balance, which is topped up annually using the $200 Amex travel credit. Being that it was Xmas eve, the airport was deserted, and we were past security in seconds. Unfortunately, the only Priority Pass lounge in Terminal 3 is located before security, so we whiled away the time sitting at the gate- note that you do not clear immigration when exiting Mexico, similar to that of the US. Our flight had maybe 20 passengers in total, and while there was turbulence for a good portion of it, we landed in EWR 30 minutes ahead of schedule.



While I cleared Global Entry within 10 minutes of landing, my husband, who had not gotten around to scheduling his interview, spent over an hour waiting in line!

Rant: why is it that every civilized country in the world has a separate immigration line for citizens and non-citizens, while NYC airports force all passengers to wait in the same line? Why is it that a citizen of the US of A has to stand behind a traveler that will be showing 30 documents and asked 40 different questions to prove his right to entry, when a citizen just gets a glance and a nod, and is good to go? Do airports somehow profit off inefficiency?

Offline cgr

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Re: A Week in Mexico
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2024, 11:49:04 AM »
All photos labeled "Mushroom Soup" are in fact Onion soup :o

Offline whacked1

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Re: Quintana Roo
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2024, 10:23:17 PM »
Great TR!

While I cleared Global Entry within 10 minutes of landing, my husband, who had not gotten around to scheduling his interview, spent over an hour waiting in line!

I hope he did the interview on arrival at least

Offline yoohoo

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Re: A Week in Mexico
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2024, 11:00:12 PM »
Lovely

Offline cgr

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Re: Quintana Roo
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2024, 11:32:29 AM »
Great TR!
I hope he did the interview on arrival at least
I wish. Global Entry office isn't open late in that terminal (and it was Xmas Eve).

Offline whacked1

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Re: Quintana Roo
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2024, 03:37:58 PM »
I wish. Global Entry office isn't open late in that terminal (and it was Xmas Eve).
EWR? I did it for my son at 5am. You dont go to the office. They use one of the customs booths. xmas eve may be different

Offline yelped

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Re: Quintana Roo
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2024, 10:30:57 AM »
EWR? I did it for my son at 5am. You dont go to the office. They use one of the customs booths. xmas eve may be different
I was in PHL and it was empty and they claimed they don't do it anymore even though it said on the website that they did. They do whatever they feel like doing.