Cozumel, Mexico – Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA – Harmony of the Seas – 2017 – Day 6-8

12/28/17

The port of the day – Cozumel, Mexico. My family all booked the Chichen Itza Mayan ruins tour ($130CAD). The Chichen Itza is one of the 7 Wonders of the World. We were all to eat breakfast then meet at the Royal Theatre at 745AM. We were all quarreled in the theatre and put into our rightful tour groups and given stickers to label us. They went over some rules and we waited for everyone to come in. We left by tours and disembarked off the ship to line up to take the ferry. Chichen Itza is in the Yucatan by Playa Del Carmen which is a 45 minute ferry ride followed by a 2-2.5 hour bus ride to the site. I can tell you that being on a floating island for a week, you barely feel motion sickness but this ferry was absolutely brutal. Headphones in and trying to sleep to keep from thinking about the motion and puking. They do hand out plastic bags just in case.

We arrived at the ferry pier in Playa Del Carmen beside Parque Fundadores and the iconic Portal Maya Statue. We were led to our specific tours and taken to our tour bus. Our tour guide gave us all tablets for the 2-hour ride and told us information about the Mayans. There is a toilet on the bus but bring your own toilet paper. Before we got off the bus, our tour guide handed us these audio devices that he will use to keep contact with us during the tour at the site.

We parked at Hotel Mayaland’s Chichen Itza entrance. We stopped to use the washroom and then walked over to the entrance. Cameras are allowed but recording devices such as GoPro’s must pay a $5USD fee. No drones allowed.

Mayan / Chichen Itza / Yucatan Information

-Place of the red fish – exact location of the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs.

-Land of the wood turkeys.

-Yucatan is the named the Europeans gave 15 centuries after Jesus was born.

-The Spaniards colonized. Ohyatan – Mayan – listen how they talk. Miscommunication thus Yucatan means in Mayan – I don’t understand.

-All the Mayan books were destroyed by Spaniards to convert to them to Catholicism.

-Only 3 books left of Mayan culture as the Spaniards punished the Mayans and burned almost 100% of all their books saying it was the words of the devil.

-The first book is on Astronomy. That book is housed in Germany.

-The second book is on Mathematics and housed in Paris.

-The third book is on the afterlife housed in Spain.

-The books unfortunately don’t speak of anything of the collapse of the Mayans.

-The Mayans could be the survivors of the lost city of the sea or that they came from outer space. 5 days after birth, they put tablets and elongated the heads to make them “beautiful”.

-The Mayans were advanced and knew about 5 of the planets. They recorded and could predict the solar and lunar eclipse.

-December 21, 2012 was end of their calendar, not end of the world. It is also when 6 of the planets was to line up.

-The Mayans used 10 numbers including 0. They created the calendar with 0.

-The Mayans made 3 calendars – An Agriculture (18 months), a baby calendar and the 365 calendar.

-The origins of the Mayans are unknown but the working theory is that they are descendants of an Asian bloodline. They hold similar features such as facial structure, skin tone and many Mayans last names are Chinese.

-Mayans are born with a purple mark at the base of the spine. All natives are born with the purple marking of sort. This purple mark is also known as a Mongolian spot.

-The Mayans most likely crossed over from Asia via the bearing strait of Siberia.

-What happened to the Mayan people? They abandoned their cities possibly over politics or over population. The Spaniards came to discover empty cities and then went further inland to conquer the Aztecs.

-The name Chichen Itza:

Chi – mouth

Chen – sinkholes/well

itza – clan that built the city.

-Chichen Itza is divided into 2 sections.

-The new Chichen itza and old Chichen itza.

-They were built at different times and by different cultures.

-The Old Mayans never did human sacrifice but new Chichen Itza did as influence from other cultures.

 

When we arrived at Chichen Itza, it was overcrowded. The main pyramid we saw is called El Castillo and it is the temple of the Kukulkan (Snake in Mayan). The tour guide led us over to the the giant courtyard which was a sports field. They would play a life or death game where the winners would sacrifice their lives after they won thinking it was an honour.

The tour guide gave us about 10-20 minutes to take photos and buy souvenirs. The precious stone that the Mayans are known for is the obsidian stone that refracts different colours in the sunlight.

Back the route we came with one more toilet break before heading back on the bus. Our tour includes snacks and we got a package with packed sandwich, apple, banana, a snack bar, a bottle of coke and a bottle of water.

2 hours on the bus and what felt like the longest 45 minutes ferry ride back to our ship. We got back really late and missed volleyball at 5PM (got back at 6PM). All of us felt nauseated so we all went back to our rooms to rest up. We for the most part had attended all the entertainment on the ship so we took it very easy that night and relaxed. There was an all white party where the solarium got turned into a dancing area. The top floor was blocked off and you had to scan your card or pass to get in. The party started at 11PM but it was very lackluster so we left.

 

12/29/17

Our final full day of cruising passing Cuba to head back towards Fort Lauderdale. 830AM breakfast then 5 hours in the sun (without really noticing). Windjammer for lunch then we took the Mini putt. We figured we might as well try the giant slide – The abyss however, you need to have a top with sleeves to avoid sticking. To try the zipline or Flowrider, you need to sign a waiver and get blue wristband to do so.

Not many activities worth doing, we all split up. I ended up re-watching the Hideaway Heist aquatic show because I didn’t have my camera with me for the first show and I wanted to capture some cool diving shots. Went to worked out one last time then to the Jacuzzis. Out of the cruising days, that day in particular was super windy and all the Jacuzzis were jam packed but I was able to find a spot but then 2 older asian couples got into my space so I left.

We had reserved our final dinner on the ship in the Fine dining – Silk. Really cute to see the staff come out to sing us a song to thank us for being patrons with the patrons swinging our napkins in response of celebration. I ordered the crab cake, 2 entrées – tempura cod fish and shrimp ravioli with carrot cake to finish.

We watched Spiderman on the big screen at the Boardwalk and went back to the room to pack. Usually on this night, people would pack their luggages and leave it in the hallway for the staff to take away and sort for check-out the following day. We opted to carry our luggage out with us for faster check-out.

 

12/30/17

We grabbed breakfast at the Bistro and then met up with the rest before leaving the ship. You can stay on the ship until 10AM but must vacate the rooms by 830AM because they need to clean all the rooms and get it ready for the next cruise where the new patrons would arrive as early as 1030AM. Self carry checkout was really quick.

We took a taxi to airport and my parents decided to stay while the four of us headed over to Enterprise to rent a car to goto Sawgrass Outlets. Our flight was scheduled for 10PM that night (we departed the ship by 9-930AM) so we wanted to kill some time and not sit in an airport all day. We arrived at the outlets just before it opened at 10AM.

I finally bought new shoes from Nike (replaced my worn out shoes from 2014) and went to Super target for M&M’s. We ate lunch at the Cheesecake Factory – Mac & Cheese burger. Got back to the airport around 430-5PM and waited around as our flight was the last scheduled flight out.

So many delays due to snow in New York and Boston but unfortunately the plane for the flight to Halifax had some technical problems with the temperature gauge and needed 4 mechanics to come in to repair it, which delayed that flight by multiple hours. By the time our flight was to leave, we left on time but there were a few that were delayed further due to the weather. So happy our flight was on time but not happy to leave 17-30C degree to -19C degrees (felt like -30C) weather.

Chicago – USA – 2016 – Day 3 & 4

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Morning workout to start off the day. We walked over to Michigan Ave to walk and shop the Magnificent Mile. It was a windy day so the weather felt drastically changing when there was no wind and when it was at a standstill. After walking the streets we ended up at Water Tower Place then to The Cheesecake Factory for lunch. I ordered the Kobe Burger that was so juicy and flavourful as well as splitting a Mango Lime Coconut Cheesecake ($20USD). The interiors of the restaurant were designed to look like Atlantis with a mixture of elements of Chicago including music notes.

We hopped on the bus and went down to Target. We continued onward and found ourselves walking the River Esplanade. The sun was shining and the wind came in spurts. I wish we had the chance to take the architecture boat tour but I guess that will be for the next time. If we came in the spring / summer I would definitely love to rent a kayak and kayak the canals.

We continued to explore the city and continued south towards Millennium Park where the sun was shining so we walked through the park which we didn’t do the previous day. We walked around the Harris Theater and made our way onto the beautiful pedestrian bridge. Walked over to Dearborn and hopped onto the bus using our Ventra card to head back to the hotel.

For dinner, we decided to stay somewhat close to home since all the walking and working out from the past 2 days started to weigh on us plus we needed to pack. We decided to spend a little more and went to Roy’s for dinner. Roy’s (720 N State St) serves up Hawaiian, Pacific Rim, American food. I ordered the Roy’s Trio which features Hibachi Grilled Salmon – Misoyaki “Butterfish”(black cod) and Roasted Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi. The salmon was the best of the 3 with pickled greens. The Misoyaki was tasty but a little salty and the black cod was a little too vinegary. I also ordered a 1988 – Finlandia Grapefruit – SOHO Lychee – Patron Citronge. The service was a little slow but the food definitely made up for it.

Since we wanted to stay close in proximity to our hotel but wanted to see some live blues / jazz, we found ourselves going to Blue Chicago (536 N Clark St) ($10USD cover) and grabbed a 312 beer ($6USD) and enjoyed the live music.

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We skipped the final day workout and took our time to finish up packing and getting ready. We walked over to Yolk (747 N Wells St) for breakfast before heading out. I ordered the YOLK ALL-STAR COMBO Two eggs any style, two sausage links two slices of hickory smoked bacon & your choice of 2 pancakes, 2 crepes, 2 slices of french toast, or a half waffle ($10.50USD). Went back to the hotel to grab our bags and checked out. Hopped onto the subway at Grand and N. State (Red line) to the Blue line to O’Hare Airport – took about 45 minutes. One last thing to do before leaving Chicago – grabbing Garrett Popcorn. NOTE: Garrett Popcorn is only located in Terminal 1 & 3. A medium Garrett Mix ($6USD) and a small Almond Caramel Crisp ($4USD). Finally bean to Chicago and now I feel in the loop