Friday, September 9, 2016

People watching in style!

I must say I love to people watch. It's such an entertaining way to spend a sunny afternoon. It's funny - when we're down at our condo in Playa with our friends - she loves to go for long power walks so my husband goes with her - that's cool it's their thing. Then I go with her husband for a leisurely stroll along 5th Avenue in Playa. This is a pedestrian street with shops and restaurants and many places to sit and watch the world go by. I think the locals start to recognize us because they never seem to try to get us into their shops they just smile and say buenos dias.

I must share with you our favorite coffee shop in Playa. We have always been the people who support local enterprises so you won't find us in a Starbucks. Our choice is to enjoy an afternoon or evening coffee at Ah Cacao - a local company which was started in 2003 and now has 3 locations along 5th Avenue. 
As well as having coffee you must try their Mayan Hot Chocolate - fresh chocolate with Mayan spices in it - a real treat! They also have a "store" section where you can buy chocolate treats and specialty items such as chocolate soaps and body oils.

The 3 locations each offer a unique perspective on life along 5th Avenue. The Constituyentes and 5th Avenue location is a major tourist location as a lot of the tour buses are dropping off and picking up right near here. It is also right across the street from Plaza Quinta Alegria one of the malls along 5th. This location is quite popular and sometimes you may be waiting for a table. 

The second shop is at 30th and 5th and seems to attract more of the local expats who meet up to catch up. There's a nice water fountain there and a money exchange location right beside it, which often has good exchange rates - but that's a story for another time.

The 3rd and newest location is on 5th between 38th & 40th. This end of 5th, as yet, is not as well populated by shops and foot traffic. The shop is the largest of the 3 with a good amount of exterior seating and inside there is seating downstairs and up. We use the upper area on Saturdays to hold team meetings with our business associates working and living in Playa. 

Ah Cacao promotes reusable cups and shopping bags, has bike racks for parking, is switching to LED lighting company wide, and uses solar power in production and natural lighting and ventilation when possible.

So next time you're in Playa - check out these great coffee shops - who knows maybe we'll meet there!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Playa - not just a little town anymore!

We just got back from another trip down to Playa. Such a great town - I just love being there - every time I step off the plane I feel like I've come home and it's funny - I never get that feeling when I'm stepping off the plane in Canada.

It was fun to explore once again this year. There have been a lot of new developments going on around Playa and there were so many changes! 

New hotels and condos are popping up all around us! The new mall on 5th Avenue that was under construction when we were there last year is up and running now. These new developments along 5th avenue are bringing a whole new, trendy vibe to the street and I really have mixed feelings about that. I understand that from a tourism point of view the trendy stores are important for the industry but it saddens me to see the cultural side of Playa being pushed aside. Don't get me wrong there is still a cultural side to be found but for the people coming in for the day from either a cruise ship, or a resort along the highway, the cultural side isn't right there in front of them as much any more. If you're only in town for the day - plan well - if it's modern shopping you want then you'll find it on 5th Avenue. If you're looking for the more traditional Mexican stores - there are still some but you will see more of them along the side streets that run down to 5th or along 10th Avenue. There is apparently another new mall coming to 5th Avenue - this one will be between 34th and 38th where the Real Playa del Carmen all inclusive used to be. 

5th Avenue continues to be the place to see for shopping and restaurants but it's interesting to note that 10th Avenue, although not a pedestrian street, is becoming a fashionable street as well, more towards restaurants than shops but as you venture along toward Juarez you will find some traditional Mexican shops with jellyfish lights, hammocks and other gift ideas - often at a better price than on 5th Avenue.

There will be lots of changes for us to see next time we are there. Days before we were leaving they were just breaking ground on a new condo right next door to ours, which will apparently have retail on the ground floor and residences above. As well the newest mall may even be open by the time we return. We will be back and the adventures will continue!