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Archive for nightlife

5 Days in Cancun

I made Cancun my final stop on my six-week trip through Mexico because I wanted to save the best beaches and the best parties for last. I was super excited for Cancun’s crazy nightlife and miles of postcard-perfect beaches, and this city totally delivered. Read on to find out how I spent five days in this tourist hotspot.

On my first day in Cancun, I arrived in the early afternoon after an 80-minute bus ride from Playa del Carmen. After checking in to my hostel and eating a huge meal of fried noodles and veggies at a Chinese restaurant (a girl can only eat so much Mexican food on a six-week trip), I decided to walk to the city’s main attraction: the beach!

My hostel was located in downtown Cancun, several kilometres from the beach and the Hotel Zone. I knew there was a frequent bus that shuttles people between downtown and the beach, but I didn’t know where the bus stop was, so I figured I would just walk. However, after walking for about 15 or 20 minutes and realizing how little the blue arrow on my GPS had moved, and how great a distance I had yet to travel before I reached the ocean, I decided that my plan to walk to the beach was a little too ambitious. I turned around and walked back to my hostel, where I asked a staff member about the bus that goes to the beach. He told me that the bus stop was just one block away from the hostel, and that buses come every 30 or 45 seconds, 24 hours a day. Best of all, a ride only costs 12 pesos. Perfect! I decided to save the beach for the following day, when I would have more time to enjoy it.

The next morning I walked one block to Cancun’s main road, Avenida Tulum, and found the bus stop easily. Sure enough, a bus came by before I even had time to dig 12 pesos out of my wallet. I got on the bus and rode it to La Isla Shopping Village in the Hotel Zone. I don’t know exactly why I wanted to see La Isla, since I wasn’t planning on buying anything. It’s just a super touristy, open-air mall with canals running through it. There was a Ferris wheel there that looked like it would have afforded killer views, but it didn’t appear to be in operation at the time.

I spent a few minutes walking around La Isla, then decided to walk five kilometres to Playa Delfines. I had heard there was a nice viewpoint over the beach there. I could have easily taken another bus, but I wanted to walk so that I could check out other beaches on the way, and also take pictures of the luxury hotels along the main road.

The first beach I came across was Playa Marlin. Just like every other beach I would later come across in the Hotel Zone, Playa Marlin is pretty much perfect. The powdery white sand goes on and on and on, the sea comes in my favourite shade of turquoise, and there’s tons of empty space to lay out a towel. It’s a basically flawless beach.

I returned to the road, walked a little more, and soon came across the entrance to the next beach, Playa Ballenas. It’s literally the exact same as Playa Marlin: absolute paradise.

As I walked along Kukulcan, the main road running through the Hotel Zone, I took pictures of the fancy luxury hotels, with their palm tree-lined driveways, perfectly manicured lawns, and elegant fountains. A world away from the backpackers’ hostel where I was staying!

When I finally got to Playa Delfines, the viewpoint wasn’t exactly what I was hoping it would be. It’s not that high, so you can’t see a whole lot of the beach from it. But you can see enough to realize that Playa Delfines is the epitome of the perfect beach. I snapped a million photos of it.

I hadn’t brought my bathing suit along that day, but I just couldn’t resist putting my feet in the clear aquamarine water at Playa Delfines. I walked to the shoreline and stood for a while letting the water wash over my feet, then I headed back up to the road and took a bus back to my hostel.

The next day I went back to Playa Delfines with a girl from Montreal whom I had met at my hostel the day before. The first thing we did when we arrived was to get in line and wait our turn to take pictures of each other in front of the “CANCUN” sign at the viewpoint there. (This was my idea, of course — I’m such a cheesy tourist sometimes!)

After that we picked a spot on the beach to lay out our towels, and I went swimming while the Montreal girl stayed on the beach. The water was absolutely perfect, refreshing and cold but not too cold. It was definitely the nicest swim I had in Mexico. I could have stayed in the water forever.

As we were lying on the beach after my swim, the weather took a bit of a turn for the worse. It would be hot and sunny for a few minutes, then the sun would disappear behind the clouds and the wind would pick up and blow sand in our faces. We never felt exactly cold, but we certainly weren’t hot enough to fancy going back in the water. So we just continued lying on the beach for the rest of the day, then took the bus back to our hostel.

The next day, both of us slept in until shortly after 1:00 p.m. (We had had a big night out in downtown Cancun with some other people from our hostel. As I recall, it involved lots of cheap white wine, followed by outdoor salsa dancing with locals in a public square.) Finally we managed to drag our hungover asses out of bed and take a bus to the beach.

We went to a different beach this time, Playa Gaviota Azul. It was quite a bit busier than the other beaches because it’s located right behind the main shopping and clubbing area. It was still just as gorgeous as every other beach in Cancun though.

Cancun

I went for a swim as soon as we had picked a spot to lay out our towels. Then, as we were lying on the beach afterwards, the weather started behaving the same way it had the day before. It wasn’t cold by any means, but it was not exactly swimming weather. We still enjoyed lying on the beach though. It was actually kinda nice to have a break from the oppressive heat I had been experiencing most of the time in the Yucatan.

I haven’t said much about the nightlife in Cancun, but I have to mention what I did on my second-last night, because it was one of the most fun things I did in Mexico. The Montreal girl and I, along with a few other people from our hostel, made a trip to Coco Bongo. If you haven’t heard of Coco Bongo, it is THE place to party in Cancun. It’s a nightclub that puts on nightly shows with acrobats, dancers, and performers impersonating famous singers. The best part is that the ticket price includes an open bar all night. At $85 USD per ticket(!), it’s not a place you’re going to party every night, but you have to go just once if you’re ever in Cancun. For a long time, I was hesitant to go because I doubted that any nightclub could be worth $85 USD, but I’m glad I finally bit the bullet and went. The performances were amazing and I had a lot of fun there. It’s a can’t-miss! (Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos from Coco Bongo because the people working at my hostel warned us not to bring our phones, or even to bring anything except the money we would need for the bus. Apparently a lot of people lose their phones there. Let me tell you though, I saw plenty of people at Coco Bongo recording the performances on their phones, and I wished so badly that I had brought mine!)

On my last day in Cancun (which was also my last day in Mexico!), I went to Mercado Coral Negro, an artisans’ market just down the street from Coco Bongo. I browsed the wares a little but had to leave after only a minute or two because I just couldn’t stand the constant harassment I got from the vendors. I couldn’t go one-and-a-half seconds without someone calling to me, “Hola, senorita! Habla espanol? What you looking for? Can I help you? What you want to buy?” I tried my best to ignore them, but it’s hard work to ignore so many people that are right up in your face, so I just left.

After that I went back to Playa Gaviota Azul, which is just across the street from Mercado Coral Negro. I spent quite a while lying on the beach, soaking up as much sun as I could before I had to board a plane back to cold, dreary Toronto the next day. Then I gathered up my stuff, cast one last wistful glance upon the turquoise waves crashing in the ocean, and took the bus back to my hostel to start packing for my flight home.

As you can see by this summary of what I did in Cancun, it’s a great place to go if you want to be lazy and do nothing but lie on a beach all day. I met a few fellow travellers in Mexico who said they had skipped Cancun because they had heard it was too touristy. Personally, I think it would be a terrible shame to skip this city on a trip through Mexico. I always say that every place that’s touristy is touristy for a reason, and that is definitely the case with Cancun. I honestly think that the beaches here are the nicest beaches I have ever seen. If you’re looking for a place to just relax and soak up the sun for a few days, I wholeheartedly recommend Cancun. If there is a more perfect beach in the world than the ones in Cancun, someone please let me know because I would love to see it!

5 Days in Prague

My stay in Prague was cut short by two days due to the unfortunate incident involving my passport in Berlin. (See previous post). Instead of staying for a week, I stayed for five days. That was just enough time to cover everything that I really wanted to do in the city, but I definitely could have used those two extra days that I was supposed to have. (Fuck that asshole pickpocket! Ugh.)

Prague is every bit as gorgeous as you think it is. Check out this small sampling of the incredible views I saw there:

Prague, bridge

Prague

I got hopelessly lost when I tried to walk into the centre of town, but I found a swimming pool!

Prague, Charles Bridge

A view of Charles Bridge and the cathedral of Prague Castle. Oh, and yours truly!

Prague, Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge looks even better in the evening.

Prague, Petřín Lookout Tower

The incredible view from Petřín Lookout Tower

Prague, castle

The equally incredible view from Prague Castle

Is this place pretty or what?

If you want the best views in the city, head up to Prague Castle and walk along the outer walls. It’s absolutely free to walk around, and the views are killer. I could hardly tear my eyes away.

Prague, view

Prague, view

Another incredible view can be had at the top of Petřín Lookout Tower. You have to pay 150 CZK (about $9 CAD) to climb the tower though, which I think is a ridiculously high price. (Not to mention that you have to pay even more if you take the funicular up to the base of the tower instead of walking up the hill.) But there’s no denying that what you see when you get to the top is pretty breathtaking.

Prague, Petřín Lookout Tower

Prague, Petřín Lookout Tower

Prague, Petřín Lookout Tower

If you’re looking for something to do in the evening, Prague has great nightlife. I highly recommend a company called Riverside Parties. They have an amazing walking tour that costs 600 CZK (or €22) and starts at 5:30pm every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Let me just say that I am not the kind of person who normally enjoys walking tours, but this one is different from any other walking tour you’ll take. Not only do you get unlimited free beer and sangria throughout the tour, but the guide, Isaac, is totally hilarious. Did I mention that the alcohol is FREE and UNLIMITED? The goal of the tour is to get you drunk and allow you to meet new people in a fun setting. For me, it accomplished those goals 100%. Oh, and the best part of the tour is that it ends with an optional bar crawl. (You have to pay an extra 200 CZK or €8 for the bar crawl.) Once again, you definitely get your money’s worth because all drinks are free at the first bar from 10:00 – 11:00. So you can easily get smashed without spending any money on alcohol. Trust me, you want to take Riverside’s tour.

Another bar crawl that I strongly recommend you take part in is called the Clock Tower Bar Crawl. It’s actually run by the same people that do Riverside Parties, so you visit the same bars on both crawls. The Clock Tower one runs seven nights a week and starts at 8:30. It costs the same as the Riverside Parties tour (600 CKZ or €22). I did both Riverside Parties (with the bar crawl) and Clock Tower, and had tons of fun on each one. (The kinds of nights you can’t tell your parents about.) If you’re travelling alone, these bar crawls are a great way to meet new people. (There’s a good chance you won’t end up sleeping in your own bed that night.)

Out of all the cities I’ve visited so far, I definitely had the most fun in Prague. Right now I’m in a little town called Český Krumlov, which is in the South Bohemia region of Czechia. It’s a beautiful town but the nightlife is almost non-existent. I’m missing the craziness of Prague! I’m heading to Salzburg in a couple days, which is not exactly a city known for its nightlife either. Oh well. As I have learned many times by now, anything can happen while travelling solo! Who knows—maybe Salzburg will turn out to be wilder than Prague. I’ll keep you posted. 😉