We recently celebrated Barry's birthday here in Playa del Carmen, and what a FUN day we had, from beginning to end!
A delicious breakfast.
We started the morning off with a run at the nearby track complex. We knew we'd be consuming LOTS Of calories, so the extra calorie burn helped. After quick showers, we headed out to El Ceiba for breakfast -- even got our favorite table. Barry had his usual Mexican eggs, and we both indulged in their delicious "Emily" (yes, it's true!) smoothie: pineapple, coconut, blueberries, and blackberries. YUM!
I tried their Huevos Rancheros for the first time. Very good, and the fried eggs were perfect -- no runny white and not overdone either.
A little birthday shopping in the tourist district.
We spent the rest of the morning catching up on computer tasks and eventually ate a light lunch before heading down to Fifth Avenue to play tourists for awhile. There's some good shopping down here, but you do have to put up with all the proprietors trying to lure you into their shops and tour guides trying to sell you excursions -- so we generally avoid this area. Today, however, we actually did want to shop a bit, so it couldn't be helped.
Our timing was good: they were decorating the HUGE and very pretty Christmas tree. Can't wait to see it all lit up at night!
I bought Barry a couple of small birthday gifts. He picked out a Playa Del Carmen ball cap, since he'd only brought one running cap and really needed a second cap for when the first one is sweaty. Here's the handsome birthday boy in his new blue cap looking only a fraction of his age!
I also bought him this massive chocolate bar at Ah Cacao, made right here in Mexico and 72% cacao. He's been craving dark chocolate. It's bigger than my hand and should last him awhile!
We strolled down to the beach for a look. It was a beautiful day, but too many people thought so; there were quite a few tourists at this particular spot.
A memorable dinner.
After returning to our rental to hang out for awhile and get ready for dinner, we walked over to a close by place Barry had found on Tripadvisor, Mayan Bistro. It sounded great, and it turned out to be every bit as good as the five-star reviews indicated.
We had an absolutely delicious and beautiful dinner, and we had the place all to ourselves! There was one other couple finishing up when we arrived, but amazingly, no one else came in the entire time we were eating. There are SO many restaurants here in Playa, and since a large number of tourists went home after Thanksgiving, it's a great time to eat out if you don't like crowds. They'll be back in time for Christmas, but we're enjoying it now! It also helped that this place is not on 5th Avenue; many tourists don't look beyond 5th when choosing a restaurant. Their loss!
The bartender, Jorge, made the most stunning red sangrias for us. He is a true artist. These were huge, high quality, and packed a serious punch. For just 75 pesos (just over $5 US), they were also a incredible deal.
And the accolades don't stop at the bar: our fish entrees were to die for. Beautiful to look at, and the flavors were rich, multi-layered, and amazing.
My Fish "a la talla" was described as "a southwest Mexican dish prepared in an aioli sauce of ancho chiles, garlic, lime, and vegetables", but what I didn't know was that it came in banana leaves. It was absolutely delectable, and the portion was large enough to bring some home for the next day. The spinach and cheese mashed potatoes on the side were also yummy, and not pictured are the fresh from the oven rolls that melted in our mouths.
The birthday boy chose the absolutely beautiful mango fish with spicy red chiles and lime. Isn't this lovely? I love the art they add to the plates as well. All the little touches here are so special!
Our friendly and attentive server, Gaby, took this photo of the two of us. I only wish I didn't have a straw sticking out of my chin!
I'd mentioned to Gaby it was Barry's birthday, so the staff came out with this gorgeous dessert for Barry on the house. The cake portion is half chocolate brownie and half blonde brownie, thus it called the "50/50"! So delicious!
We also enjoyed after dinner aperitifs (Bailey's for me, Kahlua for Barry), along with a second dessert of "Banana Mexicana", similar to Bananas Foster. So so decadent. So so SO good.
Yes, we were living large alright!
A flash mob!
After all that feasting, it was time to burn at least a few calories, so we returned to the rental to change and get Paisley for her after-dinner walk.
We heard sounds of drumming and music very nearby; I thought it was a school marching band practicing, but Barry discovered this Mexican version of a flash mob right around the corner! It was really cool to see all the energetic dancers -- and the drummers really knew what they were doing!
Paisley attracted the attention of several Mexican boys who wanted to know her name and to check her out. I love the innocent enthusiasm of the boy in the white t-shirt and hope he has a pup at home!
There were quite a few kids in martial arts outfits, so this was probably something associated with their school, but some of the instructors and/or moms got in on the action too. There were some good moves out there, and their energy was infectious!
Here's a video clip, so you can see just how energetic this mob was....
Tranquility and holiday lights.
After we left the flash mob, we sought some peace and quiet by walking down to Coco Beach. It's almost always quiet and peaceful down in this area. Christmas lights are starting to be put up, and although my pictures are bad, you can get the idea.
Blue seems to be a popular Christmas color here and is very pretty to me.
Some goodies for the road.
On our way back to the rental for the final time on this long and fun day, we stopped in at our favorite Italian pasteleria, Tiramisu, for a couple of goodies to bring home. We devoured two tiny fruit tarts immediately (can you believe we could eat another bite?!) but saved this lovely chocolate pastry for the next day. It's just like a tiny layer cake with jam between the layers. SO delicious,
So I guess we better hop off the decadence train and get back to healthier living, but it was fun -- and appropriate, I think -- to indulge on a birthday!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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