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How to Visit the Mythical City of Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza, Kukulcán Pyramid, Mexico

Once one of the largest cities in the Mayan world and quite possibly one of the seven mythical locations of human origin, the ruins of Chichen Itza lies within a totally day-tripable 2 hour bus ride from Cancun. That proximity to cruise-ship central also makes it one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico.

With that in mind, we planned our visit with the intention of arriving early enough to beat the hordes. So we booked a room at the Villas Arqueologicas Chichen Itza; a hotel located within walking distance of the less-utilized southern entrance to the park.

We found the hacienda-style hotel quaint, comfortable and clean. The only downside is that dining options in the area are limited to the handful of similar resorts located on this side of the park. We checked out a few other options but ended up eating every meal in the hotel’s poolside courtyard where the food was adequate if not inspiring.

El Caracol observatory temple, Chichen Itza, Mexico

The “El Caracol” observatory temple as seen prior to entering the park’s southern gate.

But we didn’t come to Chichen Itza for the food. We came to explore the ruins. So the following morning we made our way to the entrance gate just before opening at 8:00 AM. At that hour we stood second in a line of about six people and waited to pay the two separate admission fees of 65 pesos (US $3.60) and 132 pesos (US $7.30) per person.

Shortly after scanning our tickets we were in the park walking past still empty checkpoints and vendors who were only just starting to set up their stalls. We were among only a handful of other tourists in the park.

And in this one instance, I’m not quite sure how much beating the crowds really mattered.

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The Pink Cloisters of Convento de San Bernardino

Convento de San Bernardino de Siena, Valladolid, Mexico

Valladolid, Mexico

The Cancun Everyone Misses

Palapas Park, Cancun

Motorists whizzed past on all sides and from all directions. Some even drove backwards. If we hadn’t perfected the art of crossing seemingly rule-defying traffic on the streets of Hanoi we might still be trapped there.

Of course here on a Saturday night in downtown Cancun, Mexico, only several miles but still a world away from any all-inclusive beach resort, the terrible driving skills we witnessed were completely understandable and not in any way life threatening.

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2016 A Year of Living Extravagantly

Grindelwald Switzerland

This photo we took in Grindelwald, Switzerland, last year has nothing at all to do with our plans for the coming year

With 2015 drawing to a close our plans for the New Year are finally coming into something approaching focus. Some parts of our itinerary we’ve already committed to, like spending the winter in Mexico, the spring in New York, and the summer and fall in Europe, starting with Portugal.

After our May flight to Lisbon our plans are still a bit unsettled but at least are starting to coalesce around an itinerary we can get excited about. Our current thoughts are that we’ll spend about a month each in Portugal and Northern Spain before leaving the Schengen visa area for two months to chase leprechauns and rainbows in Ireland. We figure we’ll need about a month to tour the Emerald Isle. More importantly we’ll want a month to just kick back and relax with a pint or two hundred of Guinness in Dublin.

That last bit is part of a new strategy we’re experimenting with that we affectionately call “slowing the fuck down!”

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Dazzling Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, Croatia

“If we tip over, no one is going to be able to save you but you.” Brian’s blunt but empowering words, torn from his mouth by the wind buffeting our kayak-for-two, renewed my focus on the panic-inducing task at hand: trying not to drown, while also admiring the view. Seated in the front of the kayak, I stared head-on at the ominous black waves, feverishly wielding my paddle to properly position the kayak, while Brian wielded the camera.

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