Viva Mexico – Cancun

Time is a weird concept when you stop to think on it. The last month and a half has gone so quickly but trying to think back to where it all began it seems so long ago!!

Cancun was the first stop of my trip, the place famed for spring break, beautiful beaches with beautiful bodies on those beaches. I actually only saw the beach at night time and went for the more cultural option of a trip to Chichen Itza instead.

I had one week on my own when I arrived in Mexico and researched things to do on the Quintana Roo. I was unsure if it would be best to stay in Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum so in the end I did a couple of nights in all of them!

When I arrived in Cancun I caught up with a ship friend, Ilke from Belgium who was living in Cancun with her boyfriend. We had a couple of drinks at my hostel and then a cocktail at a bar where one litre cost just 60 pesos (£2.10). Once her boyfriend had finished work he took us for a drive around the area.

Cancun is divided into two areas, downtown and the hotel zone. The hotel zone is where you find all of the night clubs and the beaches. There were advertisements for bikini parties that cost around £50 to get in and all you can drink. Driving along the strip with music pumping everywhere you could see why it has the reputation of being a party town.

Unfortunately the time of year that I went to Cancun the usually beautiful beaches were full of washed up sea weed and it carried the smell to go with it. I found out later in the week that it was the same all along the coast.

In my only full day in Cancun I took a tour to one of the seven modern wonders of the world: Chichen Itza. The tour could have been taken anywhere alone the Quintana Roo and my journey was very long as the tour company picked up guests from Playa del Carmen and Tulum first (and in reverse in the way back). It meant that I got picked up for my tour at 8am and wasn’t back again until gone 11pm. Lucky I didn’t have anything else to do that day!


Chichen Itza was pretty spectacular. On arrival I was sent away with a tour guide who was to do an English tour. He seemed like he had done the tour way too many times and couldn’t be bothered with the detailed descriptions of the Mayan history. After about 40 minutes, glossing over the main points, he gave us an hour and 20 minutes to look around by ourselves which suited me fine.

It took most of an hour to walk around all of the different ruins that surround the big iconic pyramid. With no shade around in the midday sun I was ready for the next part of the tour, a trip to Cenote Ik Kil (pronounced say-no-tay).

Cenotes are a combination of underground rivers that run along the Quintana Roo and there are lots of different ones to visit where you can go and swim. The one that our tour visited was quite spectacular and was one of the venues on the ‘Red Bull Cliff Diving’ circuit.


We arrived at the very top of the cave (where they would usually have the platform for the cliff divers) and looked down the 26 meters to the bottom. There were hundreds of tourists down there swimming, many wearing bright orange swim vests to stop them drowning in the 40 meter deep water.

The stairs down have a few viewing platforms where you can look at the vine covered walls that go all the way down to water level. Once at the bottom there are some diving platforms set up, the highest being about 6 meters high. When I jumped in I did my best to forget that it was once a place used for human sacrifice by the Mayans thousands of years ago.

So I didn’t see a huge amount of Cancun whilst I was there but saw enough to know that I wasn’t a huge fan. It was a bit too spaced out between downtown and the hotel zone and everything in the hotel zone seemed over priced. I’m sure if I was there with the boys to go and party I would have loved it but as it happened I moved on to Playa del Carmen instead.

Barcelona with the boys

1555525489830For years, my old uni house mates have talked about going on holiday together so I was very surprised back in April when I managed to find some WiFi and there were 600+ messages of bad ideas, terrible jokes (mainly Josh),  taking the piss out of each other and reminiscing on times passed.  But the boys finally got themselves together and organised a trip to Barcelona.

Out of the six of us that shared a mustard yellow house, down Ceylon Place, in Eastbourne for two years,  five of us were able to go. Unfortunately Andy was busy, but I was lucky enough to go to Budapest with him the following week which you’ll get to read about in a later post.

On Monday morning John and myself drove from Oxford to Barnet where we left my car and Haggis and Josh picked us up for the remainder of the journey to Stanstead Airport. Westwood would fly out the following day as he had a wedding to attend.

DSC_0030Pretty much as soon as we arrived at the airport the fire alarm sounded and everyone had to evacuate the building. The process was unhurried and I wasn’t entirely convinced that staff knew the exact procedure. Having worked on ships where every employee has a specific emergency duty to carry out if an alarm were to sound (and those duties are practiced in crew drills every two weeks) I was very underwhelmed with the response at Stanstead Airport. The lack of urgency and the short wait outside suggested that nothing serious had happened thankfully but their evacuation process could definitely use some work.

Inside the airport, having finally got through the snail slow airport security, one of the boys suggested having a beer. Now there is something about being in an airport and being in holiday mode that makes it almost acceptable to be drinking alkohol at 9 in the morning. The excitement of seeing each other and trying to recreate that uni feeling was setting the tone for how the rest of the week would go so if you’re reading this hoping for some travel advice on the culture of Barcelona, I’ll save you some time. There wasn’t any culture. Unless you count the British binge drinking culture.

The flight went fine, good old Ryanair made sure our seats were scattered all over the plane to try and convince us to splash that extra £10 to reserve specific seats. So we all just slept in preparation for the lack of sleep which was sure to come.

We arrived in Barcelona early afternoon and jumped into the prearranged taxi with the driver who spent the whole 20 minute journey on his phone. I think the idea of a hands free kit is kind of redundant when the driver spends so much time looking at the phone to make the calls.

Thankfully we made it safely to the apartment, booked through Airbnb, but there was no one there to great us. The driver, who spoke no English, called the owner of the apartment and she assured Rixon that her friend would be on hand with the keys in about an hours time. We had lunch, and yes, another drink,  and returned to find the owners ‘friend’ cleaning the apartment! So we dumped the bags and went for a walk complaining about the lack of organisation and thinking about the bad reviews we were going to leave (which in true lad fashion we never got around to).

IMG_20190821_121053The apartment was about a half an hour walk from Las Ramblas and a further 20 minutes to the beach so after the walk, stopping off for further beers and cocktails on route we jumped in a taxi back to the apartment which was finally ready. The five bedroom flat was very spacious and across the road from a supermarket (and 4 or 5 very questionable looking bars) so there was no further complaints after our initial arrival.

The rest of the week followed a very similar pattern: drinking, wondering around aimlessly, talking about things that we should do but never doing and being very hungover! In the day I was especially bad and didn’t really come back into this world until early afternoons.


On our second night, after telling everyone that he never takes his phone out when he’s drinking, Rixon lost his phone having accidentally left it in his pocket when we left the flat.

On our third night I had a really nice meal around my cousin’s apartment before re-joining the boys for a night out that included one hour all you can drink at a bar followed by entry into one of the main nightclubs. As I met up with the boys at the start of the night, eating tapas, and drinking (again) Josh was just leaving as he wasn’t feeling well. My head told me that I should go back with him. But FOMO prevailed and I ended up carrying on.

Our fourth and final night we decided a pub crawl was a good idea. I mean we always do pub crawls by wondering around in search of an ever elusive ‘better place’ but this one was official. Great idea the day before flying home.


We were very lucky that our flight wasn’t until late afternoon otherwise I’m not sure I’d have made it home. It was a very different kind of get away than my other two.  We tried to recapture our youth for five days and it was awesome to hang out with the lads for a week. Even if it did drain the life out of me. I’m not as young as I once was