Touching down in New York City yesterday morning felt like a scene out of a movie. Just hours earlier, the airplane window shade had closed on a warm, breezy night in Mexico; when it opened, the world was engulfed in snow. Tulum — where I spent the weekend with two friends — seems very far away from where I sit now, but I'm so grateful to have had a brief escape from this very cold winter, and the opportunity to catch my breath in the midst of an increasingly busy month.
The three of us spent the majority of our time in Tulum on the beach, reading in the sun and swimming in some of the clearest water I've seen anywhere. When we weren't doing that, we were most often eating, or exploring the jungle strip and bits and pieces of town. A few stand-out memories from our four days:
-Hartwood. If you've read any travel guide to Tulum, chances are you've heard of Hartwood, a restaurant opened by a pair of former New Yorkers in 2010. Hartwood is firmly committed to sustainability and the use of fresh, local ingredients — it's also a beautiful place, with a smattering of candlelit tables under the stars. We were shocked to learn we'd have to wait in line hours before opening to put our names down for a table (and it took us two tries to get in), but it was completely worth it. Order anything and everything — it's all incredible.
Other memorable eats: steak at the Argentinian gem Casa Banana; banana-coconut smoothies on the beach at Coqui Coqui; pasta (yes, pasta — homemade, to boot) at Posada Margherita; and fish tacos and the world's best mojito at El Tabano. We also had a late dinner one night at Casa Jaguar, which offered delicious cocktails and a stunning outdoor dining space filled with lush greenery.
-Mayan ruins. The ruins north of the beach are beautiful and easily accessible, but be sure to go early. We showed up on our last day around 11, and it was difficult to see anything beyond the crowds of people everywhere. (I've also never seen so many selfie sticks in my life.) Margaux, my sister-in-law, had warned me about arriving early and she was right. Next time, I'll go when it opens.
-Wandering around town. We spent a couple of hours one afternoon in town, about a ten minute cab ride from the beach. We'd gone in search of interesting Mexican textiles, and though we didn't find quite what we were looking for, we had a great time poking through local grocery and drug stores (something I always like to do when I travel). We also had a memorable lunch at El Camello Jr, a roadside restaurant known for its ceviche.
Of course, this very short list doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what there is to do in Tulum — since we were only there for four days, this is an extremely abbreviated guide. Should I be lucky enough to visit again, I'd love to visit a cenote and try a mud meditation. (For more ideas, I found these links particularly helpful: 1 / 2.)
-Arrive with cash. Most places don't take credit cards, and ATMs along the main strip are notoriously sketchy — quite a few of them don't work at all. There are banks in town, but the easiest option is to exchange your dollars at the airport.
-Stock up on bottled water. It's easy to find pretty much everywhere, and since drinking the tap isn't an option, be sure to keep some at your hotel at all times. (And don't forget to use it for teeth-brushing, too.)
-Get your work done ahead of time. I arrived with a couple of deadlines to meet over the course of the weekend, but wifi wasn't always easy to come by. I found a few places and made it work, but it would have been much easier to have done everything before I got there.
I'm looking forward to making 2015 a year of travel — to places both near and far. Jamie told me recently that her New Years resolution was to take a trip every month. Whether it was a day trip to a neighboring city or a farther journey to an exotic destination wasn't particularly important. The simple act of moving — seeing new places, trying new things — was. I find that incredibly inspiring.
To new adventures, always. See you tomorrow.