March 9, 2017

The Last Hurrah

We wrapped up our trip in Playa del Carmen. We found a great little apartment on Airbnb last visit, it has superb location and it's very reasonably priced. It was an easy choice to rebook our last night there. We stayed in a different unit this time, it too, was comfortable and well appointed.

On our first trip we discovered La Cueva de Chango. It's best known for breakfast, but all meals were quite good. It's grown by leaps and bounds in popularity and size. It used to be on the edge of town and now, it feels like it's smack dab in the center. It was bustling on a Sunday morning. We were fortunate to grab the last open table. We ordered and while we waited for our food, we noted how it's seem to have lost it's charm. It's quite the operation these days, definitely not the quaint place it once was and I'm sad to say it felt like it was run like Denny's. I was quite disappointed by the food, as well. It was a bummer.

Oh, and there's a Starbucks in Playa del Carmen now. Drive thru and all. It makes me happy that locals are doing well, but it makes me cringe too. I don't need American conveniences when traveling abroad.

Anyhow, after snorkeling in Akumal, we checked in and readied for the evening. We wandered 5th street a bit and we were just amazed by all the new resorts and condos that have replaced modest hotels and shops, which seemed pint sized by comparison. Alhambra was a hotel that neighbored Playa Maya, which was the hotel we stayed at on our first visit. Last trip, it was closed and set for demo. Now a gorgeous modern hotel stood in its place. It was remarkable. We saw that it had a rooftop bar and decided to check it out. In addition to the bar, there is a sushi bar, dance floor and infinity pool. Plus, the outer edge offered stellar beach views and you could see all the way to Cozumel.

[photo: tripadvisor]

The day crowd had left, and the evening goers hadn't come yet, so we lucked into a bed overlooking the sea. We got cozy and cervezas flowed. Sunset was stunning and we somehow found our own little nook amid the hectic chaos in the heart of Playa del Carmen. It was perfect.

We had a snack of sushi and sashimi before we left for one last meal at El Fogon. They are open late every day so we didn't have to rush to enjoy tacos. It totally hit the spot after hours of drinking. At least, some things remain as good as ever.

I wasn't quite ready to leave, but our time was up. I packed and tried to get a few winks before our early flight home. We dropped off our rental at Alamo and they tried to boost the final bill by charging more for the required insurance plus a few extras. We provided the confirmation and were told the manager would adjust. They kept their word. Our Southwest flight to LAX was empty. We were able to sit in the first seats which gave Frank plenty of leg room. You gotta love poor man's first class. Being the first off the plane helped us pass through customs quickly. We have Global Entry so we bypass the long lines and go directly to the kiosk. There was no line. Frank zipped right through, I, on the other hand, was flagged for review. I had a slight wait to talk with an agent. Even with the delay, it was still about 40 minutes before our bags made it to the carousel. The line to leave was insane. Fortunately, we could pass right through. Global Entry, for the win! A must a LAX.

LAX is the worst airport. It's so congested and just a terrible layout. Usually you can check your bag immediately outside of customs when making a connection, but here, we had to leave the building and find a hidden escalator in another terminal and then wait with the masses to recheck our bag. Had we not had Global Entry, I'm not sure our 4 hour layover would have been long enough. Gosh, if it were a short hour or two, we surely would've missed our connection.

We grabbed lunch at California Pizza Kitchen to pass the time to boarding. It was a far better choice than the Rock & Brews nearby. Our flight to Vegas was full, but otherwise uneventful.

There you have it, another trip was in the books. Our travels to the Yucatan might cease, but I'm excited to find the adventures that lurk elsewhere.

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