Monday, 25 March 2013

DIY drapes; find a "How to" Blog

I have made my own drapes before, but unless you do it regularly it is hard to remember the steps and the math.  There is actually way more measuring and figuring, than there is sewing, in most drapes.  I had a book to help me, but I found this blog to be much more helpful.

This blog gives photos and step by step instructions that were very easy to follow.  There really is no need to buy a book for "how to" for anything, anymore.  Blogs like "Textile Love" are amazing!

Here are my finished Drapes.  It was a lot of work & a lot of fabric but I saved money and gained a great feeling of accomplishment.   Thank you to Megan for blogging "Textile Love".

What to do with those 3 little windows?

This is the wall in our master bedroom, those 3 little windows will be above our bed.  The sun rises on that side of the house so we need to cover these windows with something.  Roller blinds seem to be what most people use, but what color and where do the cords go?  The price we were quoted was $540 for roller blinds on these 3 little windows.......I didn't think it was worth it, there must be something nicer. 

 The salesperson who was selling the blinds, said that other clients have used pillows.  That sounded interesting, so I bought a pillow, but it wouldn't fill the whole window or even stay up there, it was too puffy.  I also thought of using a framed canvas, or covering a frame with fabric but it looked too flat, we needed more depth.  So back to the pillow, I needed to square it, to make it fill the window completely and to make it stay in place.

So I picked open the seam of the pillow, and removed the stuffing,

I bought some foam core poster board, and cut it the same size as the window

Then slide the poster board into the pillow casing, and put some of the stuffing back in, but not much, just enough for one side of the pillow to be puffy while the other side stays flat

Hand sew the open seam back together, and place into the window.  It fits quite snug, but I may add a piece of velcro to make sure it doesn't fall on us during the night.
This is the final result, quite cool I think!

When we get the bed with the black faux leather headboard in here it is going to look great!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Renos never go as planned do they?

We have been up in Kelowna for the past couple of weeks, doing some work on our future retirement home.  We are hoping to have it all set up for the summer, or whenever our other house sells. (fingers crossed that will be sooner than later)  

We made ourselves a big "to do list" including some renos to 2 bathrooms.  

This is the master bathroom, the sinks are so high in here it looks like giants live here. The cabinets are 36" high and with the vessel sinks on top I would need a stool to drink from the tap.  So we bought new sinks that will mount under the granite.  Of course, this granite cannot be reused because of the cuts made for the exciting sinks.  So we have to buy new granite, and think we will go with something black to add some drama to the room.  Of course we have been trying for over 2 weeks to get 2 quotes to do this, and so far have only received one.  Trades in Kelowna work at a very slow pace for some reason? (you'd think it was mexico)

The other bathroom we left for last on the list because demo was going to be messy and we didn't want to live in the dust for long, but it did not go as planned...........

The plan was to remove the bathtub on the other side of this wall, making room to cut a closet into this wall.  Unfortunately, when Mark started cutting off the drywall he found a whole lot of wires!  Lucky that he did not take out the bathtub first!  Rewiring the house to make a closet is too expensive.  We were disappointed, this house is really short of closets, the one in the master bedroom is 1/4 of the size of our current closet (yes I will have to downsize my wardrobe!)
 After sleeping on the problem, we came up with this as the only solution.  The room will be a bit smaller, but we are only using it as an office and it is still a good size for a future buyer to use as a bedroom, (aprox 11X11)

 Mark had this framed in a few hours, and will drywall it today.  So lucky to have a good handyman around when you need one!

So now I need to decorate a boring powder room, can I hide a tub we will never use? (but will have to clean!)  We have ruled out spending too much money on this room, and just to think of it as good for future resale, as the room we just added a closet to, could be a bedroom.  So I guess I'll go shopping for a shower curtain, rug and maybe pick a darker paint color? 

 What would you do?

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Smart Meter, only as Smart as the Human who installed it

Have you ever thought about actually checking your hydro meter reading against your BC Hydro bill to see if it matches?
How about checking the actual meter number with the meter number listed on your BC Hydro bill?  Although BC Hydro hates to admit they make mistakes, they did make one in our case.  The actual meter # 4122752P263  does not match the one on our bill.

You will find the Meter# listed on your bill under the heading Meter reading information on the left hand side.  Ours was off by one number.

We have only owned this house in Kelowna since Aug/12.  The house is empty, no appliances, no lights are on, the only power being used is from the fan on the gas furnace.  Our first Hydro bill was $121., the next $479???  That's when I started asking questions.   BC Hydro agreed that the $479 did seem high, and advised us to get someone to read the meter and get back to them.  BC Hydro will not go and double check for you.

I spoke to the neighbors who had noticed that the construction workers were plugging extension cords into our house and my sister went and checked the house for us at the end of December and confirmed muddy foot prints leading from a construction site to our outdoor plug.  I then contacted the Developer who investigated, and acknowledged the error, workers had been using our power and they promised it would not happen again.  Now we'd have to wait until the next bill came in to figure out an appropriate amount of reimbursement.

But the next bill was even higher $ could this be?  I called BC Hydro again, they mentioned that the smart meters had just become active for this last billing.  The chance of the meter being wrong was less than slim, it would more likely have been wrong when a human had read it.  We have all heard bad stories about these smart meters so I was skeptical.   But again, the only thing we can do is check the meter ourselves.

The developer insists they have not used our power, and offered to go check our meter for us.  We were about to drive up to Kelowna (a long drive on a snowy highway) when we received an email with the photo of our meter, from a nice man who works for the Developer.   We were all surprised that not only was the meter reading way off, the actual meter # was not the one we were being billed for.

I called BC Hydro again, they too were very surprised and will now be investigating.  We do not have to pay the last bill, they will contact us when they figure out what the bill should actually be.  I am more than relieved, this was really getting frustrating, but my happiness is going to bring anger to one of my new neighbors............the meter # we were being billed for belongs to one of them.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Playa Del Carmen, Conclusion

Things I learned during our extended stay in Playa Del Carmen:

  • The beach is one of the best we have been to, miles of white sand to walk on, sand that never gets hot, and swimming in the warm, clear turquoise water........heaven!
  • The weather is great (most of the time) you can't rely on the online weather forecasts but it will rain once and awhile.  There will also be really hot days, even I (dedicated sun worshipper) needed shade.
  • There is no old town left in Playa Del Carmen.  The City is bigger than I expected.  There are still poor areas of town, away from the tourist area.  The beachfront has been transformed to appease tourists, with high end condos, designer shops,  McDonalds, Starbucks & BugerKing, all mixed in with the little Mom and Pop places trying to sell T-shirts and souvenirs.  
  • Don't eat at the expensive restaurants on 5th Ave, not only are they overpriced the food is just disappointing.
  • Avoid Senior Frogs, every port has one, walk by, beer is 20-30 pesos($1.60-2.40) most anywhere else on the beach, $5US at Senior Frogs (price example, the whole menu is overpriced)
  • Although the restaurants and bars all look modern, the bathrooms are still mexican, no paper allowed in the toilets, as water pressure is too low.  Although in the resorts and condos, it is just like home.
  • Shop & eat at local Mexican merchants when you can, Walmart may look safe and familiar to you, but the prices and quality is better at the little Sorianna Super, and the restaurants off 5th Ave give great service because they love your business, prices are cheaper and the food is great!
  • No need to rent a car, Taxi's are cheap and much safer, but you can walk everywhere in Playa Del Carmen, it keeps you in shape, and convinces you that you deserve Happy Hour!
  • Apparently that stinky sewage smell near the beach by Mahakel, Los Palapas & down near La Pirata is not from sewage but from contaminated ground water.......but it still stinks!
  • Don't rent a condo on a busy street or near a noisy beach bar.  Cars, motorcycles, ATV's, dune buggies, buses, whatever they want to drive, may or may not have a or night 10th Ave is just too noisy!
  • We toured a few condos while we were there and next time hope to stay at Palmar Del Sol, or somewhere in Playacar, but we have yet to find the right place there.
  • Tourists are being overcharged for condos here, shop around, just because they are asking $350 a night doesn't mean they actually get it.  The rates for long term rentals can be 1/3 of the cost so most places will negotiate.  If you are Ok paying $350 a night stay at a high end. Adult only, all inclusive resort, like The Royal.
  • Isla Mujeres is worth at least a day trip and we would like to spend a week there next time at the Ixchel Hotel
  • We wish we had visited Akumal, apparently that is also a great place to rent a condo, 30 minutes from Playa Del Carmen.
  • If you love techno beat music and DJ's you should visit Playa Del Carmen during the BPM festival at the beginning of January every year, ....if you don't like the BOOM BOOM music, you should delay your stay until after Jan 15th.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Playa Del Carmen, week 7- Isla Mujeres

Near the end of week 6, I came down with a cold, so I am behind in my Blogs.  We are actually home now, but I need to write about our trip to Isla Mujeres ( eez la Moo hay ris).   We loved this small island off of Cancun.

On Tuesday we took the ADO bus from Playa Del Carmen (48 pesos per person) and then a cab(60 pesos) to the Ferry dock at Gran Puerto.  Even though I asked the cab driver to take us to Gran Puerto, we ended up at the other ferry dock of Puerto Juarez, we had no idea what they looked like so we were tricked!  It was still a ferry dock, but not for the nice Ultramar ferry, this was for Magna ferry.
We did save 5 pesos each, but not quite the same ride!  (5 pesos = 40 cents cdn)
this is Ultramar
This is what we got instead...........magna

Luckily this was the only disappointment of our trip, and a small one at that!  This small island looks like a fishing village when you arrive.  Of course there are salesman trying to sell you tours or rentals of scooters or golf carts, and there is shopping, but it just has a more laid back feel, we noticed a difference almost immediately.  There are very few cars, some taxis but mostly everyone drives golf carts or scooters, so it is so much quieter.

We could not rent a golf cart when we go there, it was a busy day for the Carnaval celebration. (Now what they think is busy is 100X quieter than Playa Del Carmen)  So we walked, had lunch at a beach front seafood restaurant, which was great and inexpensive(just as we like them).  So we continued to check out the town, and some really nice beaches, and decided to stay the night.

We walked into a couple hotels and they kindly gave us tour and showed us the rooms, prices were good $128 US at the Avalon Reef Club, but the hotel was old and nothing special to put it nicely.  

Avalon Reef Hotel....looks great from here, disappointing inside.

We decided on the Ixchel Hotel, $139 US for a King size bed, very clean, quiet and the beach was just like one in the Bahamas!  Loved this place, we will go back for a week next time.

Ixchel Hotel from the water

Beach in front of hotel, facing west to watch the sunset, shallow, warm & fish swimming all around you

We sat in beach loungers and watched the sunset, then went to find a restaurant on their pedestrian only street called Av. Hidalgo.  It is a smaller version of 5th Ave in Playa Del Carmen, but great looking places, all very reasonably priced, we had trouble choosing one.  We tried a Mexican place called Don Chepo, 2 for 1 drinks and very good food.  It would be fun to be here for a week to try more places, and so nice that they were not overpriced like Playa Del Carmen.

The next morning we had breakfast at the Rooster, and I had the best yogurt and granola I have ever had at a restaurant, covered in berries, sadly it was too big for me to finish it all!  Then we rented a golf cart and drove around the island, took about an hour, stopping to see the sights.  

We just love this Island, it is so different from Cancun, no all inclusive resorts, no Coco Bongo, so much more our speed.

looking to Cancun

At Punte Sur, with a really big Iguana

Friday, 8 February 2013

Playa Del Carmen, week 6- Condo rentals

On one hand I cannot believe we only have 7 days left here in Playa Del Carmen, but on the other hand we both agree we have been in one place a bit too long, not that we want to go home, just that we wish we hadn't rented just one condo, in just one place.

 The condo we have been living in is very nice, a small building of 11 units, quiet neighbors that come and go every week, but we have not meet many people here.  One month here would have been perfect, on week 5 we were both ready to move somewhere else, but we are locked we will know better next time.

When the weather is not cooperating, it would be nice to have the freedom to take off to Puerto Vallarta, or maybe down to Belize?   But I am really not sure I could just get on a plane and decide where to stay when I get there, I like to plan, I want to stay in a nice place and get a good deal, and not have to pack up and move every week.  (probably an age thing, I like to think it is wisdom)

We have started looking around at other condos, trying to find the quietest nighttime area, but still within walking distance to everything, like we have now.  I would love to stay in Playacar, as the beach is beautiful down there.  So far we have found some nice places but most of them are very pricey and a very long walk to town.

I don't understand how this part of Mexico got so expensive, all of the beachfront condos are $350 US a night.  You can stay in a very nice all inclusive resort for that price (or less) or you could rent a whole house for $400 a night, so why are people paying these kind of prices?  Most of the beachfront condos here do not even have a nice beach in front of them (El Taj, Ocean Plaza, El Faro, Luna Encanta), or they are beside a noisy bar.  Come on people, supply and demand, do your research before you pay these prices!  ( I feel like ranting but I will stop there)

We are not sure wether we will come back here next year or not, when prices are over $5000 a month for a condo we could go to Hawaii.  We like Mexico but it is supposed to be better weather than Hawaii and much cheaper.  The food, alcohol and restaurants in Mexico are still half the price of Hawaii.  You are not going to get a cold beer in Hawaii for 25 pesos ($1.96 cdn), or a restaurant meal for 2 with drinks for 300 pesos ($23.50).

The locals say that the 2 weeks of rain we got here at the end of January was very unusual,  and I have found a few nice condos that are closer to the $3000 a month range, so we haven't ruled out coming back here again.  We are touring some condos, The Meridian, Luna Maya, Parmar Del Sol, & Pueblito Escondito  this week, but probably won't make any decisions until we get home.   We have ruled out "The Elements" although it looks wonderful, there is a beach bar close by that plays loud music (boom boom boom) night and day that just ruins the ambiance.

Also, we know we can still rent a beautiful condo in Nuevo Vallarta for $2250 per month (example here:  The only thing missing there is the beautiful warm turquoise ocean with the white sand.  Pacific coast beaches just do not compare to the Atlantic, but the seafood on the pacific side is so much better so there are pros and cons to everything.

Doing a quick search of condos in Waikiki, Hawaii, it would not be hard to find a one bedroom there for under $3000.  (example  It would not be beachfront, but the ones I am looking at in Playa Del Carmen are not beachfront either.

While doing my condo search online I came across the blog of Wandering Earl it is a great read if you have time, not just this one post but the whole thing.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Playa Del Carmen,Week 5

It was another mixed bag of weather this past week, a couple of real rainy days where I did not even get to put on a bathing suit (yes that is bad).  When the sun was shining this week, it was very humid, so we needed to go to a beach restaurant for dinner just to have a breeze.  There are not many beach restaurants open for dinner but La Tarraya, at the foot of 2nd St is one everyone raves about.  We had been there once before and they overcharged us for the chef's special so we were not impressed.  That was a few weeks ago so we forgave them and gave it another try, very glad we did!  They make the best fish filet for 90 pesos, not a fancy place, but delicious seafood, great prices and good service, so good, we went back again last night!

We also stopped in at Wah Wah's beach bar for their 1st anniversary party, which was packed.  Good live band, and good dinner specials, but it was so busy, finding a plastic chair in the sandy bar was difficult, but not impossible, we ended up sharing a table with a nice couple from Calgary.  We will have to go back and try the ribs, and smoked pork, it did smell wonderful!


Wah Wah's doesn't look like much from outside, but it advertises free lounge chairs during the day, you just have to buy your food and drink from them of course.  The waiter's all wear t-shirts that say "WAH you want".

On the big scene behind the band they were showing a slide show of people and the beach over the past few years.  It showed how they rebuilt the beach in Early 2010 after storms erroded the beach away.  An amazing amount of sand was dredged up and rebuilt in front of this bar and the surrounding hotels, there is not much left now. The beach restoration project cost 71 million dollars so I wonder if they can afford to do it again?

With the full moon last Saturday came changes in the tides, there was a much lower tide in the morning giving us a nice 20 feet more flat area to walk on.  There is never the big tide changes like we have in BC though.   So our beach walks at the beginning of the week were a nice change but by the end of the week the beach looked like this......
Yes, the power of mother nature!

This is what it looks like a couple weeks ago, and pretty much what it looks like again today.  Except there is very strong winds today, so the waves are huge, the tide is in quite high, leaving very little room to walk, or suntan in some places.  The waves are also breaking much further off shore, so quite a lot of sand has been pulled out to sea.  It was too rough to go in the water today, but we wonder if it will be shallower when we go in tomorrow?

The good news this week is that the Pedestrian only section of 5th Ave has now been extended to 46th Street everyday after 4PM.  It used to run from 1st Street to 32nd St.  Our condo is at 38th St, so we had to dodge a bit of traffic for a few blocks before we got to the pedestrian only part. (no big deal really)  It is nicer now though, we have noticed a decrease in traffic noise, (although 10th Ave beside us is still very busy and noisy) and it is just nicer to walk down the middle the cobblestone road with no cars.  Restaurants around us now have tables out on the street and are hoping to get more business obviously.  The downside will be when more restaurants and bars move down here, and create another disturbing night time noise.  (they seem to stay open til the sun comes up here)

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Hotels & Beaches, week 4

Last Thursday we had to change our plan of going into Cancun for the day, as the weather was not looking good, so we took advantage of a break in the clouds and went for a big beach walk.  We planned on walking as far as the beach would take us (or the weather would allow) and taking a cab back.

We headed north as that was the direction that looked the least cloudy.  I have already told you about the first part of this walk, in my week 2 blog.  This time I am trying to record all the hotels and beaches we saw on the way, as Google earth is not up to date, and a map search only seems to give you some of the hotels.  I am sure the names are always changing as well.  Often we cannot tell the name of the hotel from the beach either, so I will do my best to find it.

Hotel Las Palapas 
Mahekal        Now these 2 hotels are right at the foot of 38th St, where we start our beach walk every day.  And everyday for 4 weeks there has been a horrible smell around these 2 hotels, apparently it is from contaminated ground water, but it smells like rotten eggs or sewage, and I just would not recommend staying here unless you have no sense of smell, or it was really cheap?  Otherwise they look like great places, nice beach, nice looking buildings, good location.

The Elements  This is a nice looking building, new condos can be rented off  It is set back off the beach, but has it's own beach club which is basically reserved beach chairs.  Nice swimming area in front of the beach club.

Hotel Grand Coco Bay  This Hotel looks much older now than in the photos, has a swimmable beach, but also a lot of fishing boats parked in front of it.  Good location, walking distance to 5th Ave, but nothing fancy.

Next is some unfinished condo's  the sign says "I'M", nice beach but obviously a funding problem has stopped construction here for some time.

Paradisus La Perla  We cannot see the actual hotel from the beach here, just the beach chairs.  Hopefully the pool and grounds are nicer than the beach, as it is too rocky for swimming and very little sand to sit on.  Quiet beach area, nothing else around here.

Public Park/beach area, nice shallow bay, some rocks but not a bad swimming area

Mareazul, Condos, This is one of our favorite swimming beaches.  The condos look quite empty, New development with a great beach area.  Too far to walk to town for dinner though, we are about an hour into our walk now.

The Royal Hacienda  This place was very  large, huge pools and nice beach here, some rocky areas for snorkeling as well as a sandy swimming area.

Now I am trying to remember what came next so I checked Google earth and they have The Reef Coco Beach & Viva Wyndam Maya next, but both of those hotels have addresses in Playacar, which is no where near here, so beware if you are using google earth!

Sandos Caracol  This was a very busy beach, lots of children, not that much sand to walk by all the people.  Beach does not look as nice as in the photos.  Website is saying this is 10 mins to town, that would be by car.

Azul Fives  We could only see the pool area here, and noticed they had sand that was grey, they must have trucked in dirty sand from somewhere else, which looked strange.

La Reve  We loved the look of this small boutique hotel, not much of a swimming beach in front, kind of rocky, but not far to find a sandy spot to swim.  Of course this place has rates starting @ $339 US a night and it's not all inclusive.

The Viceroy Hotel  Not a great swimming beach, but they have built a private pier to walk out to where the swimming would be better. this does not look anything like the website, but I do recognize the red roofs that were hidden amongst some trees, looked uncared for.

Grand Sunset Princess

Coming up to this next hotel, we were both in total agreement that we could definitely stay here

Grand Velas  .....until I looked up the price...$707US per night!  Not in the retirement budget

Banyan tree Mayakoba, looked like expensive condos right on the beach, It was really start to get windy here, and we realized this part of the coast is no longer protected by the Island of Cozumel, rougher water, but it was not a great day for weather.

Next was a small wooden walk way over a part of the beach that was eroding, looking inland we could see the Mayakoba golf course, great view from the fairway and green on this hole!

 Fairmont Mayakoba hotel  You can just see beach villas here, but judging by the website there is a lot more we could not see.

Ok, we have now been walking for at least 2 hours, it is getting really windy, and it feels like time to turn back.  We never did look for a taxi, just kept walking.  We were really tired, sand walking makes your feet, ankles and calves quite sore.  Four hours may have been a bit too long, the map says we covered 20kms, no wonder we were tired!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

More from Playa Del Carmen

I really am feeling sorry for any vacationers who came to the Riviera Maya for just one week, if you arrived last Saturday and left 7 days later, you really did not see much sun!  That is pretty rare for this side of the world.  Yesterday was beautiful again, so hopefully that trend will continue this week!

We had planned on going for a bus trip to Cancun and over to Isla Mujeres last week but didn't want to do that in the rain, so we will do that this week for sure.(I am using the power of positive thinking to ensure good weather!)

In week 3,  we did a bus trip to Tulum.  The bus ride there and back was very comfortable & reliable, big new tour busses and only cost 66 pesos ($5) each way.   Now I am not a big fan of touring ruins, (I am not really a history buff) nor do I enjoy touristy tours, but I wanted to see what the town of Tulum looked like, so might as well take in all Tulum has to offer. 

There was quite a long line to get into the Archeological site, and of course only one ticket window open!  To us it seemed very much like the Ruins we have seen in Turkey and Greece, but with palm trees and shade.   We did not do an official tour, just listened in on the other tour guides talking and had a nice walk around. 

Now you notice in that last photo, the nice blue water in the background, yes, there is a beach, so another reason I didn't mind seeing the ruins.  Apparently there are 2 beaches that can only be accessed by paying your entrance fee, but the biggest one was closed due to turtle hatching season. ( we could not see that)  We gladly went down to the little beach that was open because it was so beautiful, had to a swim because the sun was out making us sweat again!

After exiting the ruins we walked to a near by beach, had lunch at a beach bar, delicious seafood Tostadas and then laid on the beach for a while, then took a 50 peso cab ride into the little town.  We walked around a few streets but not much to see, not on the Ocean at all, so nothing to draw people there.  There are many young backpackers, so it must be a reasonable place to stay. No big hotels, or American restaurants which is nice to see for a change.  We stopped and had a cold cervesa at Charlie's Restaurant next to the Bus station, that looks like a great little place!   We quite enjoyed our little day trip to Tulum.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Rain in Playa Del Carmen

Even I did not believe this until yesterday, it does rain in Playa Del Carmen!

Yes, a whole day of clouds and rain!  We had to take an umbrella so we could go for a walk, it was almost like being at home, (except it was 22C).

We have laughed at the weather forecasts for this area, as they always say chance of thunderstorms, or 40% of rain, a sometime during the day a big black cloud blows through and you get wet for 5 minutes,  but most often it does not rain at all.  We have been here 27 days now and been rained on maybe 3 times before yesterday, so don't be scared away by the forecasts on weatherundergound or accuweather.   They are never quite right, none of them predicted a whole day of rain for yesterday.

So far today is looking better, I even checked the forecast .....(LOL not sure why)

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Playa Del Carmen, week 3, in Search of Good Seafood Restaurants

We have been having quite a restaurant dilemma since we have been here, probably because we expected Mexico to be the same on the Atlantic side as on the Pacific side.  Obviously that was unrealistic, why would the food and restaurants be the same in Newfoundland and Vancouver?  We forgot how big and diverse Mexico (or any Country) can be.

Our plan to try a 7 week vacation as retired folks was based the search for sunshine in the winter, and to live on the same budget as we do at home.  Mexico seemed like a much better choice than Hawaii (for example) as the cost of food in Hawaii is much higher.

There is no shortage of restaurants in Playa Del Carmen, but at least half of them are pizza places.  We do not eat pizza at home so why would we eat it in Mexico?  (of course I might have the occasional gluten free pizza if I found a good one at home or anywhere, everything in moderation)

We love fresh seafood, so that is what we search for, should be easy in a seaside town! However we are finding that most restaurants serve Basa as their catch of the day, some call it sea bass.  If you ask for the catch of the day some places have Grouper, some say it is Grouper and bring you Basa! This is when I get really disappointed. (if you haven't had Basa it is in the frozen food section of your local grocer, it is cheap and has very little flavor or texture)   The other disappointment is when you actually get grouper and they have overcooked it.  Mexicans are usually the best fish cooks?

 I know I read many times to avoid the restaurants on 5th Ave, and mostly we have, thinking that the beach front is more where we wanted to be. So far we have found a list of disappointments  Kool Fish, La Exquisita de la 38, La Vagabunda & El Pescaore Da Ilena, none of which we will go back to.  Also 2 favorites:  La Ceuva Del Changa at 1st Ave and 38th St. (we have been there 3 times and love it!)  Carboncito's on 4th St was also great!

But we should have been looking more toward 30th Ave, as this article and many others have stated:

We are so happy to find that we really can go out for a fabulous & inexpensive seafood dinner!  The restaurants are small, but clean and friendly, no ocean view but you can't have everything. (darn)

We ate here a couple nights ago, shared whole redsnapper and shrimp tacos for 200 pesos and it was fabulous!

Next is La Bamba Jarocha, it has great reviews and is always full of Mexicans, so we are looking forward to trying this one, along with many others down the street.

Monday, 21 January 2013

10 Things I love about Playa Del Carmen

1.  The beach:  multi colored blue green water, so warm you do not even need to pause going into, (unless there is a wave), white sand, soft and cool on your feet.

2.  The Weather: there can be a few stray clouds which are nice to cool you down, sometimes the wind is quite strong but it is never cold, 25-30C during the day, 18C is the coldest night we have had and......

 .... this is what a rainy day looks like
3.   No Beach Vendors
4.   Avocados: Huge ripe avocados, puts the little things we have at home to shame (I eat them everyday cause it's a good fat right?)

5.   5th Ave:  Pedestrian walk, love that the street is closed to cars from 34th Calle (St.) to 1st Calle.  It is a great walk in the morning when the stores are not all open and people are not out yet, at night it is crowded with people, looking for a dinner destination, a bar or shopping.  This is where all those beach vendors disappeared to, now trying to entice you into their shops or restaurants.

6.   Restaurants:  La Cueva de Chango : favorite restaurant, not only is it just down the street but the prices are really good, and the food is always delicious!  Try the Amaranth crusted Chicken stuffed with cottage cheese or the Tuna  Yummm!  2nd favorite is the small local restaurants on 30th Ave, away from Tourist area, welcome to everyone, great food, cheap prices, very clean and worth the walk.  The servers don't speak as much English in this area, but there is always one or two of them who know enough to help us order something good.  (Yes we should learn more Spanish)

7.   Safe to walk everywhere:  to the grocery store (many to choose from, Sorianna's & Aki Gran Mayoreo are closest to us and have a great selection and good prices, 2nd choice and a bit farther walk is Mega and then Walmart).  No car rental necessary (google why you should not rent a car in Mexico)

8.    Our Condo, Arena Blanca, 10th Ave and 38 Calle (St.) walking distance to everything, The best part is the roof top deck.............

Large enough to do my morning workout (love the sworkit App), usually a nice breeze to lay out and read a book in the afternoon, if not, there is always the pool, or a short walk to the beach....choices, choices, choices.

9.    Live Band at Bad Boys Beach Club, thursdays and Saturday,  Good for some live Rock and Rock, and dancing if you like, people watching also entertaining here.

10. Getting up each morning and trying to decide which bathing suit to wear today! 

Friday, 11 January 2013

Beach walks, week 2

This week we have been on some nice long beach walks, this side of the world seems to have sandy beaches that go on forever!

This is where our walks start from, the foot of 38th Street, a couple blocks from where we are staying.

Walking for just over an hour to the North we did not need shoes at all.  There were several areas of rocky beaches that would be dangerous to swim in without shoes, but plenty of nice white powder stuff to walk on until you find a nice swimming beach.  (Cause it is hot and you need to cool down on a 2 hour walk)
We walked past a Paradisus resort, which did not have much of a swimmable beach at all, but it was
definitely away from all crowds.

 A little further along we found a wonderful sandy beach, walking into the water for a swim was perfect, no rocks, just warm water and gentle waves. Also a very large sandy area to lay out on in front of a very new condo resort called Marealazul.  It looks very nice, check it out here

The next day we found an even better beach when we walked in the other direction from our condo, past the Mamitas, and Kool beach bars, we often just lay out in front of the Royal Resort, the beaches are all fine here, but very crowded.  There is an old pier next, and all the resorts to the south of that have a weird beach, man made, with sandbags under the sand, like concrete to walk on in places.  The swimming area is a sandbar out past the fish boats, doesn't look appealing at all to me.

Next, in the photo above is a big row of condos and beach bars, very little beach to lay on and a slanted area to walk, swimming is also out there on that sandbar, I wouldn't want to stay at El Taj or El Faro cause the beach is lousy.( did I mention the smell around here......rotten eggs?)  So we keep walking past the ferry dock that takes you to Cozumel and what a pleasant surprise............

Now this nice flat beach is in front of condos, Xaman Ha and PlayaCar Place.  Playacar is the upscale area of Playa Del Carmen, it is gated, and has a golf course and many gorgeous looking houses.  The beach here is not crowded, there are no beach bars or anywhere to rent a chair. (which is too bad, but I guess that is why it is not crowded)  It took us about 40 mins to walk here on the sand, probably less if we went by road. This Beach reminds me of the beautiful beaches we saw in the Bahamas and Antigua, we will definitely make the walk back as often as possible.

I did look up the condos on this beach to see what the prices were like, and of course they are over $250 a night, and the Xaman Ha is really old and run down looking, old A/C that would be very noisy, I wouldn't recommend that one.  There are many of these beach front homes too, wouldn't that be nice?  Yes, way too pricey!  The last 3 days here have been very windy as well, so going to the beach means you are always covered in the fine sand, ( it is always blowing on you).  So maybe being beach front would not be all that great, there is no sand blasting us on our nice rooftop deck! (only a short walk from the beach and less than half the cost of beach front)  Maybe we will just be happy with what we have!
The search for a great fish restaurant continues.....................................