Archive for February, 2010

Playa del Carmen, Hidden Jewel in the Mexican Riviera

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Known to indigenous Maya people as Xaman Ha’ or simply as Pláaya, Playa del Carmen is one of the most vibrant tourist spots in the Mexican Riviera. Along with metropolitan Cancun, The Island of Cozumel, the archeological sea-side site of Tulum and the ruins of Chichen Itza, this beautiful coastal town is a must-see for tourists coming to the Yucatan Peninsula.  Originally a small town for fishermen, the spot became a tourist outlet when the passenger ferry service to Cozumel was established. Travelers noticed that this low-key settlement was an ideal place to relax away from the crowds visiting urbanized Cancun. Playa del Carmen’s beaches offer excellent sea diving opportunities as well as wonderful inland diving experiences in the many Xenotes surrounding the area. If you are into Open Water Diving and Adventure Diving, you will surely want to check out this beautiful Mayan retreat.

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If nonetheless, you are into family trips and group tourism, you may wish to visit the Xcaret eco-archaeological park, a marvelous one-of-its-kind theme park that brings you closer to the Mayan heritage, water sports and local Mexican wildlife. If on the other hand, you wish to stay in or around town, the local activity blossoms on Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue), stretching from Calle 1 Norte to Calle 34 in the south end of town. When you stroll down this picturesque street, you will find lots of boutique hotels, local art and craft shops, bars, and international restaurants that will make you feel in a small town with a taste of a metropolis.

Regardless of your favorite activities, you will surely appreciate Playa del Carmen’s charm as a small fishing village and artists’ colony, without it being as boisterous and metropolitan as Cancún, the nearby city that flourishes with American tourists all year long. The local city government of Playa del Carmen has passed an ordinance limiting buildings to three stories, thus making it still a home for the humble, hassle-free tourists that spend their days in this magical town. It is precisely this laid-back atmosphere that has attracted many European expatriates that own and manage local businesses in Playa del Carmen.

Looking for Playa del Carmen Vacation Rentals? Browse our inventory in the Mexican Maya Riviera.

Be Prepared for Airport Security Screenings

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

When you are travelling by airplane, you need to go through security checkpoints handled by local authorities to ensure nobody is carrying “prohibited items” or pose a security risk to passengers aboard an aircraft. Although sometimes it may be considered a hassle, security checks and protocols are executed to prevent terrorist attacks or hazardous situations during air travel. Here, we present a couple of tips  and suggestions so you can prepare beforehand, allowing you to move quickly and efficiently through the security process.

Be aware of your attires and accessoriesairtravel_screening_exp

Although there is no particular type of recommended clothing you should wear, excessive clothing or loose garments may draw attention on security officers who may direct you to additional screening. Also certain accesories can set off alarms on metal detectors and slow down the security checks. As much as possible, try to avoid jewelry or accessories that contain metal. You can save time by taking off any metal accessories like belts and jewelry  as well as your keys, cell phones and loose change, and placing them in your carry-on baggage. These items can be all bundled and placed in the X-ray machine for inspection so you can ease the process.

Most airport security staff and procedures will require you to remove your shoes before you enter the walk-through metal detectors. Usually all types of footwear, even lighter ones like sandals have to be removed and placed on the X-ray machine belt. It is a good idea to take  disposable booties or socks so your feet are kept clean and you don´t accidentally injure them.

Have your boarding pass and ID ready

Remember to always carry a government-issued photo ID available for security staff to check. Along with your ID, you should have your boarding pass readily available so officers can cross check your name with airline records and your ID.  Children are not required to show identification although it is a good idea to take a birth certificate or other ID just in case they are required to show proper identification. Every adult traveler should keep his/her airline boarding pass and government-issued photo ID available until exiting the security checkpoint. The absence of identification will result in additional screening and time delays.

If you are not travelling but accompanying a relative, child or a passenger with a special medical condition that requires assistance, let the airline personnel know about this so they can assist you when going through security checks.

Practical tips to make screening faster and hassle-free

  • Try to keep the least amount of items in your carry-on bag. This allows security officcers to get a clear X-ray view of your bag.
  • Remember to pack all liquid, aerosol and gel substances in your checked baggage, otherwise these items will be retained at security posts.
  • Limit your carry-on bag items to whatever is strictly necessary for the duration of the flight, including your wallet, your cell phone, electronic devices, and personal items.
  • Be prepared for additional screenings, be patient and curteous with security staff. Their job is to make everyone safe.
  • Remember to arrive to the airport at least two hours before your flight so you can have extra time to board in case there are security checkpoint congestions.

For more information on Airport Security Screening Process, go to the TSA Website