June 7, 2010

Travel in Cancún - Walking

The pace of Cancún is slow. Anyone attempting to rush around, particularly during siesta (2pm - 5pm), might as well have a neon light over their head flashing out the legend, 'tourist'. So when walking, booking a taxi or tour and using public transport, please bear in mind that it might take longer than anticipated. Just set your internal clock to 'vacation' and it won't be a suprise or a hassle.

The Hotel Zone is basically one long, long street, so it's incredibly difficult to get lost there. This street, Avenida Kukulcan (Boulevard Kukulcan), is divided into equal sections every kilometer (around half a mile) with signposts telling you where you are. Just look to the center of the boulevard. kilometer marker Between the two streams of traffic are the stone km signs. On a blue background, with white writing, they will tell you which km you are entering. There are 25 km zones in all, starting from one in the north and ending at 25 in the south. As you know which km your hotel is in, then it's basically a straight line along the boulevard back to it, using the markers to show you whether you're heading towards or away from it.

This blog entry kicks off a trilogy explaining the various ways of getting out and about around Cancún. We'll start with the most obvious one: walking!

Walking through the Hotel Zone is very easy. There are sidewalks lining each side of the boulevard. It is therefore a great way to explore, wandering from shop to shop, via the beach, or into an attraction, pausing for lunch or stopping to admire the view over the lagoon. This is invariably done at a very slow pace; vacation speed aside, it's difficult to jog in that heat.

Most people will be wearing flip-flops or sandals. In fact, for many tourists, this is the only footwear they will bring to Cancún. If you are planning to go into some of the more select restaurants or a night-club with a dress code, then you will need to change into appropriate footwear. Flip-flops may see you refused entry. The vast majority of establishments though will welcome you in casual dress, even in beachwear. If you are venturing further, particularly into the jungle or to one of the Mayan ruins, then tennis shoes/sneakers are much better. The combination of mosquito bites, potential sunburn and extensive walking there will make you glad that you covered up your feet.

Two warnings when walking in Cancún:

* Break in your footwear first. It's very tempting to splash out on some brand new flip-flops for your Cancún holiday, then spend the first day with them rubbing holes into your feet. Getting band-aids to stick under flip-flop thongs, especially when you are sweating in the heat, is very difficult.

* Watch out for the sun. It is very hot in Cancún and people can get sunburn even in the shade. Those who never have to use sunscreen often have to lather themselves in it, while in Cancún. One of the most common areas to be burnt is on the soles of the feet, because tourists cover every inch of the rest of their body, then sunbathe on their front. Their forgotten, exposed soles are pointing towards the intense sun and next thing you know they can't walk for a week. Rule of thumb: If your feet are uncovered under the sun, then use sunscreen on them.

If you have arrived without appropriate footwear, then never fear. There are no end of stores selling everything from cheap flip-flops through to expensive designer dancing shoes. It's not recommended that you go bare-foot on the sidewalk. You'd end up burning yourself on the slabs.

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