Hola! (sorry had to) Look at me getting out a trip recap within the same month as the trip. V proud over here. Last time we went to Tulum in 2015, it took me MONTHS to finally type out part 1 and part 2. I’m going to split this trip up into 2 parts again because 2 posts with photo overload is better than 1.
Let’s start with how this trip came to be. We have been asking ourselves when we would go back ever since we flew home on our first trip. Flights are fairly cheap from LA to Cancun ($200ish roundtrip!), but obviously that adds up quickly as a family of 5. I’ve had people comment to me, “Wow, you’re so lucky how can you afford traveling!” and the answer to that is that we try to take advantage of credit card points/airline miles/tracking fares/traveling in the off season to make it affordable! So we were able to cover the flights (minus tax) with VirginAmerica airline miles and some hotel with credit card points.
**All the amazing photos are via Scott, all the okay iPhone photos are via moi.
Thankfully Virgin only has a direct flight from LAX-CUN especially after our little mishap in Mexico City last time, so the flight was about 4.5 hours which was manageable. We sat Atlas/Me/Prim —-aisle—- Oliver/Daniel/EMPTY SEAT! When we travel, I surprise the kids with a new activity/toy in their backpack to hopefully keep them somewhat occupied. This time I got them all one of those mess free marker + coloring book sets and secretly bought Moana and put it on the iPad which was such a lifesaver because we set the kids up in the row together and put on Moana and I napped for 20 on the extra seat, so win-win. They also got to pack a handful of whatever they could fit and carry in their backpack and also their own water bottle and some snacks. We also happen to have 2 old iPhones plus that iPad mentioned so those also kept the kids occupied.
We landed, got our rental car which was supposed to have 2 boosters and an infant seat we reserved but this was all we got—
We got to our hotel and caught the “just after sunset” beauty on the Caribbean really quick.
Ollie’s death grip is only second to mine.
We got dinner and the kids were absolutely miserable and exhausted the entire time. We had a room with 2 double beds so the kids all slept sideways on one bed, while Daniel and I had the other which actually works perfectly while they are still small. They conked out, Daniel went to meet up with Scott and Amy who had just arrived from NY and I settled in and watched the Oscars dubbed in Spanish (texted Blythe asking for a translation of the Best Picture mishap!?).
Next morning we ate at the hotel, peeped the ocean for a few, then started our drive inland towards Valladolid and Izamal.
The drive was really nice and easy. The roads were well maintained, even if there were a million topas aka speed bumps. We passed through some really small rural towns where there were so many stray dogs and kids hanging around on the side of the road. We stopped at a little snack shop in one of the small towns and got the kids a pack of cheetos and this was the prize inside… we were all very weirded out and confused.
ANYWAY, we stopped in Valladolid, the old colonial town that was built on top of the Mayan city Zaci for lunch and was also where we would be later saying that night. We took a quick walk around the main square to see the amazing Cathedral de San Gervasio which I read somewhere as the oldest church in Mexico? Yucatan? but now can’t find my source so???
Last trip we spent so much time at Coqui Coqui Tulum but it has since been shut down, but they have a shop/hotel in Valladolid so we had to stop by and it was absolutely beautiful. It’s located on the 17th century road Caldeza de los Frailes which I have since learned means the Street of the Monks and was the way the old Franciscans would take from the Cathedral to the Convent of San Bernardino de Siena (photo after the ones of Coqui Coqui). I took way more videos than photos of Coqui Coqui so I’m sure it’ll be in the video that I’ll make one of these days.
We left Valladolid and made our way towards Izamal. Again along we way we saw this beautiful little shine to Our Lady of Guadalupe and and to stop to check it out. It was literally in the middle of no where.
Prim stayed in the car because she had finally fallen asleep very safely in her giant booster…
Onward to Izamal! So when we were researching for our trip we came across this city that for 1 looked beautiful, but had such a sweet story. JPII was set to be coming through the area on his 1993 tour of the Yucatan and this town wanted to catch his attention so they painted every building yellow and is now known as the Yellow City. We were all kind of blown away by how much we loved this little town. I wish we spent more time there because it was just so charming. Izamal and Valladolid are on the Mexican governments list of Mexico’s Magical Towns and it lives up to that title. We made our way over to the Convent de San Antonio which was stunning.
So much love for Mary all around Mexico! Love it so much. I was bummed though because we got there right after the nuns had left the gift shop, but! when we left we saw these kind of cheesy horse drawn carriages so we took a short ride around the town while they were all gearing up for their Carnival party. We ate the freshest, best churros of our lives and headed back to Valladolid for dinner and the night.
When we got back, the city was waking up for their Carnival. We settled in our hotel, ate an amazing dinner, and walked around the square as so many families were out celebrating. They have this tradition where the boys dress as girls and the girls dress as boys… it was amazing and no I didn’t get a photo. :(
Next morning we woke up and got ready for another big day. Our hotel was so beautiful and perfectly located. It is right across from the Cathedral and right on the main town square. We ate breakfast (so many fresh juices everywhere….so good and helpful for my nausea), spied on Scott and Amy’s one-on-one date, and walked around the square one last time.
We loaded into the van and made our way to Chichen Itza, THE Mayan pyramid. We were kind of surprised by how busy and touristy it was once we got there. Everywhere else had been kind of dead with us being one of the only tourists in sight, but this place was busyyyy. Buses and buses of people. I brought the Ergo specifically for this day and Prim was HATING it/me. We waited in line and finally got onto the grounds. It was sweltering outside and all the kids were at their worst. It made me feel better that it seemed like every kid under 8 was having a miserable time from the heat and the winds blowing dust in our faces. But we pushed forward and saw the beast of a pyramid.
Atlas said we were in the desert and just wanted to go swimming. We joked that maybe there is a pool at the top of the pyramid and doesn’t that sound like one of those weird things parents tell you as a kid that somehow gets ingrained that years from now he’s going to be talking to a friend and say, “Yeah, there’s a pool on top of the mayan pyramids” and realize there’s no way thats true.
Scott got this photo of Prim looking like the smug Primcess she is and it’s my favorite.
We walked around a little bit more, saw the court where Mayans would play that basketball like game and kill the winner, got some ice cream, and hopped back in our van blasting the a/c and made our last trip to Valladolid for lunch.
We ate at this restaurant right next to the cathedral called El Atrio de Mayab and it was SO GOOD. They have a woman in the front making tortillas that the kids loved. And I’m still thinking about that passionfruit margarita (yeah yeah, so what).
Finished up inland and made our way to Tulum where we’d be staying for a few nights before heading to Cancun on our last night. Let’s finish up part 1 here! Part 2 will be so much less dense than this monster of a post and have more on the overall experience of it all. Stay tuned!