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Travel Vignette – Yucatan

This is the first post in a new series called Travel Vignettes. These posts will serve as a guide of sorts that I hope will create inspiration with my fellow travelers. My goal is to give you a glimpse into the places that make me feel alive while still leaving some mystery to discover them for yourself. I often feel that traditional travel guides are too cookie cutter for my taste so these are more a product of my own curiosity and embracing of spontaneity. So many great experiences I’ve had on the road came from going left when everyone went right. At the end of each post I’ll share a few recommendations of places that made my heart beat a bit faster and hopefully give you a spark to get going.

Over the past week I had the chance to visit various parts of the Yucatan Peninsula with my family. It’s a gorgeous part of Mexico that offers some authentic experiences if you’re willing to stray from the tourist havens. Travel for me has always been about curiosity. Discovering hidden gems on backstreets and the beauty in everyday life. Mexico offers plenty of opportunity here.

The first stop of the trip was Tulum and it didn’t take long to fall in love with it’s charm. Tulum has a wanderer gypsy/beach vibe with some killer foodie options as well. We stayed in the town of Tulum that is a few miles inland from the beach. The town itself doesn’t offer a ton of amenities but you can find killer street food for next to nothing and take in local culture. We made this our home base to venture out to the beach and surrounding areas. At the end of this post I’ve posted links to some of my favorite experiences.

Tulum Recs

Hartwood – Incredible dinner in the jungle. Atmosphere is top notch and wait staff is laid back.

Posada Margherita – Favorite brunch place and perfect spot to spend the morning.

Zamas – Another rad breakfast place with incredible views of the ocean.

Gran Cenote – Go early and avoid the crowds. Amazing diving and snorkeling.

After spending a few days in Tulum we drove inland to stay a few nights at Chichen Itza the famous Mayan Ruins (and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World). Make sure to stop at the town of Valladolid if you’re headed this way for some amazing Spanish colonial architecture. We stayed at the Mayaland Hotel on the grounds of Chichen Itza and were blown away by it’s charm and elegance. The Mayaland has hosted guests such as Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly, and King Juan Carlos of Spain among others. It was designed by the head of the Carnegie expedition that cleared the ruins during the 1920’s and has some serious old world charm. Huge tip for visiting the ruins – most tour buses arrive around 9:30 so get to the gates at 8 sharp. We had the whole place to ourselves for almost an hour in peace and quiet.

While at Chichen Itza we decided to take a day trip off the beaten path to the town of Izamal. This charming small town is known as the “Yellow City” because most of the town’s walls are painted egg-yolk yellow. The monastery there is almost 500 years old and built on top of a Mayan pyramid. The monastery also boasts a visit from pope John Paul II in the ’90’s and celebrates that visit beautifully with relics and shrines. Take the back roads to get there – the small villages along the way are breathtaking and the locals were welcoming.

If there is one reason for blogging about my travels it’s that I am fascinated by the pursuit of the unique experience. Making stories I can tell my grandkids about someday. The video below was shot on a morning walk at first light with my 3 year old Grady. We had no plans, no objectives. Just grabbing some fresh air as we shook off our sleepiness. These 15 seconds sum up everything travel is for me.

Hope this posts helps a bit in your journey as well.