Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ola Senoritas, do you remember me?

If you have been to at least one all inclusive resort you probably are aware of the fact that when you check in, they put a wristband on your arm for the duration of your stay. Not all resorts do this (like Sandals and other very high end resorts) but for the most part, it is common practice.

I was recently in the beautiful resort area of Riviera Maya which is south of Cancun on Mexico's Caribbean coast. It stretches over 100 miles down the beach filled coastline starting about 24 miles south of Cancun airport. It is filled with small towns like Puerto Morelos, Puerto Aventuras, Tulum and of course the main town, Playa Del Carmen.

Playa Del Carmen is the central town for shopping for local goods and souvenirs, small hotels if you want to get away from the big resort feel, the ferry to Cozumel and much more. The main street in the area is called "5th Avenue". Bars, restaurants, silver shops, small 'market' type shops selling ceramics, regional crafts, silver and more. There is one main chain store (like ABC in Hawaii) that seems to be every couple of blocks selling snacks, alcohol and medication. Every kind of prescription medication that you would get from a doctor here, is available there, over the counter.

While recently travelling to a resort in the area, four of us decided to go into Playa for a few hours. We took a taxi from the hotel that dropped us off at the central starting point of the area and off we went.

It is a pedestrian street, so you can just easily walk up and down, going in and out of stores at your leisure. Every few steps the local shop keepers are calling out to come and check out their store, their goods, that they have something for you.

After a couple of hours of walking we are stopped on the street. Here is a paraphrase of the interaction:

Local: Ola senoritas, do you remember me? I served you at the bar last night at the Hard Rock. (could be possible).
One of us: Yes, I remember you, are you on your day off from the resort? (again could be possible).
Local: yes, Ci, I am.
Local: I am here helping my grandfather, he just opened a shop, come and take a look. (that is where I was out of it).
One of us: okay..
and off she went.

One of the people I was with actually lived at worked in Mexico and was very aware of the interaction. It was very funny, because it all seemed very believable until he said the comment about his grandfather. I knew it was just to get us to the shop,which the other girl went into and very quickly realized the same thing.

After this one interaction with the "do you remember me" line, it continued to happen over and over again as we walked down the main street. A few times they actually mentioned the hotel name where we were staying, but other times it was just remember me from the hotel.

It is harmless. Everyone needs to try to make a living, and you can't blame them for trying. It did get more comical as we walked through the streets. It seemed like every local who talked to us worked at our resort. If they all worked at the resort, what were they doing in town - ha ha!

I loved my time in Playa Del Carmen and every time I visit that area, I will probably go into town to spend a few hours. This wouldn't deter me from visiting a local town while on vacation. It shouldn't stop you either. Go and enjoy where you are. There is much more to a destination than the resort you are staying at!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tiptoe through the Tulips

The final day of our cruise felt like the best was saved for last. We arrived back in Amsterdam and our morning excursion was to the Kuekenhof Gardens, the world's largest flower garden. It is over 80 acres and is home to more than 7 million tulip bulbs and other flowers.

The Tulip season is very short, two months to be exact. The Keukenhof is only open during the Tulip season, this year was from March 30 - May 18th. Then the Garden closes and they wait until the fall to plant the bulbs and flowers that will grow for next year. There are over 30 different shows that run throughout the time the garden is open. We were very lucky that they didn't have a bad winter this year in Holland. We were told several times that because of the winter they had in 2013 that the ground was still frozen and the tulips didn't even bloom last year. Each of our guides during the trip said how lucky we were to be seeing such a great tulip season.

Out of the 10 days that we were on our trip, this had to be the day that it rained. We left the ship in the morning and arrived at the gardens in the rain. The tour guide were walking us through the gardens quickly so that we could get to the large indoor exhibits and out of the rain. The indoor gardens did not disappoint. 

The rain stopped and it was time to get outside and explore the beauty of the tulips and all the other amazing floral displays at the garden. 

Every year that have inspirational gardens. I stumbled across one of them called The Love Garden.

The sign at the start of the garden read:

The Love Garden is packed with love and memories. A place to remember what have have and had; a love lock on a fence; a serenade on the most romantic balcony; a hug on the Cupido bench.

Or ask the most important question, "will you marry me?"

By leaving a personal message on the red heart this garden will be filled with warmth and friendship.

You could spend a whole day (or more) at the Garden. I only had about three and a half hours. I saw as much as I could see, took as many pictures as I could to keep that memory alive for a long time to come. 

Please see the next post for more from my visit to Keukenhof