Mexico City with a baby and a toddler; adventure on its own:D

Mexico city – vibrant and colorful city, which will cause the adrenaline level to skyrocket when visiting with a baby and a toddler.

Four years ago, when we visited without kids, I could not anticipate that the visit with our kids would make me seeing Mexico City with completely different eyes. In case you are feeling sad that you can not go on zipline or rafting adventures with your baby – do not worry, just take your kid to Mexico City metro and the adrenaline adventure is guaranteed!

I must say that this is the attraction number one of Mexico City – we loved it the first time. You can buy almost anything in the metro itself : CD, movies, food, batteries, listen to someones concert, see a dance performance, literally anything! Also it is very cheap – for 6 pesos you can even not exit it for the whole day and just travel around the city and absorb the vibe;) With kids – it is a slightly different experience;) First of all, you should note that in Mexico City it is almost impossible to spot a stroller. There is a reason for it. Upon arrival to Mexico City we decided to take a metro – later on did we realise why people do not do it with a stroller. First of all – there is no elevator! Not a single one, on all of the metro stations we visited. Secondly – with a stroller you will have to lift it over ticket control, cause there is no wider entrance through which you can enter with a stroller, but luckily in Mexico there is always someone to give you a hand and help:) But the real adrenaline rush starts once you enter the metro – doors have no security check so once they are closed – they are closed, the doors are opened for very short. I was never so stressed in my life, I did not care about the luggage, just that legs of my kids do not get stuck in doors during exiting. Adrenaline rush – wooohooo, and  it is most of the time extremely crowded and you have to be creative in finding your way out. It is definitely an experience you have to try, but if you have issues with heart you might want to avoid it;)

Our favorite place to be with kids in Mexico DF is Bosque de Chapultepec – beautiful big park area, where you can have nice walks, go for a boat ride, visit a zoo and amazing museums. What I loved about this park is that it is so well organised – for example in certain part there are tables with big photos of all animals you can find in that part of the park. Our daughter loved it – she would look at the photo and then try to spot the animals!! I wish this could be found in all the parks around the world. Whatever you decide to visit in the park, you will not regret it! Since we have visited the Museum of anthropology in the times without kids, and our kids were too small to appreciate it, we skipped it this time. But that is a museum you MUST visit  at least once in your lifetime, and it will take you a whole day. We decided to visit this time the kids science museum – Museum Papalote. It was a great choice and Natalia had lots of fun.  I think 2 year olds should have a discount, as they are not allowed for the whole floor of activities due to age, but we had to pay the full price for her. I must admit it, it is the best children oriented science museum I have ever visited (and I visited a lot since its my passion;)).

Everything can be and it is supposed to be operated by kids. They can learn how do tornadoes form, they can play a synthesizer and see the “fire” of sound waves, etc. What Natalia enjoyed a lot was the part where she had to design her own rocket and launch it to space;) She was fascinated to observe how different design of rocket influences its performance. There is also a big part of the museum dedicated to the human body – so kids can enter various parts of body, check their function etc. And of course the most beloved part for Natalia was the part with various animals:))) If you have kids that are 5 or older you should really not skip visiting this place!

There are numerous amazing museums in Mexico DF, science museum being the most child friendly. You ll enjoy and learn so much when you visit any of the fascinating museums in the city. What you should not skip when in Mexico DF, is a ride with a gondola in Xochimilco – so much better and more romantic experience than Venice. Just don’t forget to bargain. In order to get a good price, refuse first 2-3 offers, pretend you are leaving and do not worry there will be someone running after you with a budget friendly offer;) If you are traveling on a tight budget,it will take you at least one and a half hours to come here – first by metro than you ll need to take tren ligero till the last stop of amazing Xochimilco.

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Enjoy Mexico!!!!!

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Tulum – small town on the Yucatan peninsula, perfect for romantic getaway and family holidays

Tulum is a small town on Riviera Maya which will definitely occupy a special place in your heart if you visit it. You will certainly want to stay longer than you initially planned to. We visited it for the first time four years ago and planned to stay there only for one night. We ended up completely changing our plan and staying in the amazing Tulum for 3 nights instead. This year we decided to visit it again with our kids and it was just as lovely. Unfortunately, it did get much more touristy than it was 4 years ago (no wonder), but it is still a place I would not skip when visiting Mexico.

Here is the list of our top Tulum experiences:

  1. Tulum ruins – a spectacular Mayan archeological site. Even though the entrance price doubled over the last four years, it is still symbolic (now it costs 70 pesos (3.15 euros)). It is definitely one of the most amazing and budget friendly places on the Yucatan peninsula – on Sundays you can visit it for free. You will definitely want to spend at least half a day here. Bring your towel and when you are exhausted from the heat you can take a swim at the paradise beach on the ruin site itself. Take lots of water with you and some fruits so your kids do not starve;). Your kids will for sure enjoy seeing iguanas on the site. There are so many of them, they seem to rule the place now. People working there are extremely nice and helpful. During our last visit to the ruins our daughter lost her favorite stuffed animal Lady , which she takes to bed with her, and everyone was helping my husband to look for it. They even told him to come back after the site is officially closed and for more than an hour they were helping him looking for it. Lady was not found, either she was hidden by iguanas or taken by the sea – but it gave us a memory to cherish.

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2. Snorkeling with a view of the ruins at sunset – definitely something you should do at least once in your life! I guess it should be on everyone’s bucket list. If you are traveling on a tight budget, just wait until all the tours are already finished and you are approached by local boys for the last possible boat ride at sunset. For one hour of snorkeling including snorkling, equipment and the guy showing us all amazing fluorescent fishes, beautiful corals, we paid 200 pesos (9 euros) in total. View of the ruins from the coral reef especially during sunset is priceless – image you do not forget. Sometimes when I close my eyes I can still see it:D After the ride you can look for some live band playing on the beach and dance barefoot on one of the most amazing sand beaches in the world.

3.Try deliciousus ceviches at Camello (fish restaurant across the hostel El Jardin de Frida) – local, very tasty and budget friendly. It is hard to find local restaurants in Tulum for some reason most are owned by Italians, which keeps the food standard at the place quite high;) Since we have it so close to Italy we preferred to enjoy local food at the site;)

4.Visit cenotes and lagunas in the surrounding – when you are on Yucatan you definitely should not skip visiting at least 2 cenotes. Take the map from the surrounding (it is free) and simply randomly choose 2 cenotes you will not make a mistake. In order to make it more budget friendly avoid those that are reviewed in the guides (e.g. Lonely planet, etc.) like Dos Ojos. If you are an experienced diver do not miss cenote Angelita !!! Since we were already 4 years ago and explored a lot the region we decided to go with our kids to the Lagoon Kaan Luum. It is a perfect place to go with a toddler and a baby since its quite shallow. The entrance is 50 pesos (used to be 20 four years ago). You can have a nice family picnic there and simply enjoy there. It is like Bacalar in a small version, and it is not overcrowded. We visited on a weekend so many local families were there, but I am sure if you visit during weekday you might be the only visitor like we were when we came there for the first time four years ago.

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5.Make a day trip to close by ruins such as Muyil and Coba ruins. If you are staying in Tulum for 3 or more days you should definitely not skip Coba ruins. It is a unique large archeological site through which you can ride a bike. It is not overcrowded and you can explore it on your own pace and sometimes feel like Tarzan and Jane;)

There are much more amazing spots in Tulum surroundings, but some we prefer to keep for ourselves, to prevent them from getting overcrowded in future;) Enjoy!:D

Cancun – how to make the most of it when “forced” to stay there with your family

Cancun – a city that would probably have never made it to our destination wish list and we would have never visited it if we did not have to. Luckily or not, due to a conference there, we had the opportunity to discover it and check what it has to offer.

When you arrive at the Cancun airport, you are immediately approached in english by many private taxi drivers from various companies and they all assume you come from US and for people from US they have “special offers”. Since we speak spanish we thought it would be easy enough for us to find a cheap transportation to our accommodation. But in Cancun – things are slightly different from the rest of Mexico. Only special taxis are allowed to reach the airport and apart from them the ADO bus. When travelling with family and having stroller and 2 big suitcases, you would struggle a lot to fit into the ADO bus which would take you to the center and then from the center you could take the city bus (which has no space for big luggage) and in total spend around 2 euros. We decided to take a shuttle (cheapest option available at the airport itself) – colectivo – but it is not the same type of colectivo as you might have encountered in Chiapas or Oaxaca. It is a van – and the prices are european, so in order to reach your hotel (they stop at any hotel you need) you ll pay 140 mexican pesos  (around 6 euros) per person (older than 4 years).

This was our first time stay in all-inclusive hotel and honestly I was sceptical about the experience. We stayed in Crown Club Paradise hotel and even though at first sight I was terrified and I know we would have never opted to stay in such a resort on our own (especially if we would have to pay it ourselves) it was not a bad experience at all. It was in a way a relief  – since we suffered from a jet lag (not the kids, just the two of us) it was nice not to worry where to find some tasty food, get drinkable water, etc. They even had a small shop inside the hotel where you could get all kind of stuff – from food to diapers (but quite expensive (for mexican standards)). People working there were very nice, they had lots of activities for children, so it made a jet-lag recovery quite pleasant. I was afraid since it is so touristic that the food would be not really mexican – but adjusted to the foreigners. Most probably thanks to a lot of local tourist they had really amazing mexican food (pozole was extremely delicious) and what I liked a lot they had a special stand with food for kids:).

There were many pools and amazing white sandy beach where you could observe birds  in the early morning and have a nice swim.

But that is it – yes you do get to enjoy beautiful sandy beach – but it is artificial. I find the whole beach part is just made to resemble a fake paradise, nothing against, just not my kind of thing, I prefer wild nature.

In case you decide to take the city bus (it costs 12 mexican pesos) to reach the center of Cancun- there is really nothing special to see, few big markets, parks and that’s it. The only archeological site inside Cancun El Rey (actually it was across our hotel) is very tiny and compared to numerous other sites around Mexico, not impressive, but in case you plan to stay only in Cancun you should visit at least that one. There is also aquarium there – but very pricey and according to other families we met who went there – not really worth going – so we did not go there and can not tell you experience from the first hand. If you need to travel from one hotel to another on a daily basis the cheapest and fastest option is to take a city bus, it will stop where you want. Sometimes the ride with the city bus might resemble adventure park experience;)

Important tip – when travelling with kids you will probably after few days have clothes to wash – go to the Cancun city center, close to the ADO bus station you ll find Lavaderia Victoria (Avenida Yaxchilan, close to the crossing with Avenida Uxmal)  – you ll pay 11 mexican pesos (so around 50 cents) per kilo of clothes. Your clothes will be washed  (extremely well washed, all food stains from baby clothes were gone), dried and sorted. If I would have that kind of service at home I would never use a washing machine!:))

In case you want to stay very close to Cancun and meet local culture better head for Puerto Morelos – it is much more budget friendly with lots of nice restaurants just at the beach.

Kids will definitely enjoy the beach, collect numerous shells (really beautiful and big ones) which you can use for numerous craft projects, you can even take some sand home to make some nice memories out of it.

In conclusion if you want to experience real mexican culture, Cancun is not the best place to go, but can be a nice place to recover from a jet lag:)