How to Properly Train for Your World Travel Adventures

Some of the world’s great sights (such as the ancient Mayan city of Coba on the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico) include a fair amount of walking

Last week, in my latest installment on preparing for world travel, I encouraged you to check with your physician or, at a minimum, do a very honest self-assessment before starting a conditioning schedule to meet your adventure dreams. This week, I’d like to discuss progressive training, a method of gradually conditioning your body, to meet the demands of your travel destination. I will also provide you with a generic training plan. In future posts, I will discuss specific goals like hiking the John Muir Trail in California and the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Though specific, the training methods for these locations can be modified to meet your needs. (more…)

Ready, Set, Go!

Photograph: Alamy

BUT FIRST—  

Last week I introduced a new series on preparing for your world travel adventures. In that post, I invited you to step out of your comfort zone, broaden your horizons beyond your usual athletic activities, and allow me to be your guide as you embark on traveling the world. I also told you about some of the great once-in-a-lifetime trips that have inspired my lifelong love of travel.

Depending on how your health may, or may not, align with your travel dreams and adventure plans, before you head out the door to aggressively train in the nearest hills, let’s discuss preliminaries (yes, boring stuff, I know!). Some of the first steps to preparing for your adventure are getting a medical assessment from your doctor and then beginning a gradual training program.   (more…)

Awaken Your Travel Bug

Back in high school—oh, so many years ago—a friend of mine gave me a travel article his father had written about a trip to Hong Kong. Looking back, I realized that one article was the seed of my love of adventure and world travel, and it reinforced my own upbringing in which my father always wondered what was over the next rise.

A few of my earlier journals

A few of my earlier journals. Photo credit: Brien Crothers

WHAT INSPIRES TRAVEL? (more…)

Announcing SU CAMINO… in Hardcopy

The paper edition of Su Camino… is now available on Amazon.com.

Su Camino… 20 Days – 785 Kilometers – Camino de Santiago

A WHIMSICAL MIX OF PILGRIM RESOURCES

AND CAMINO MUSINGS

There are several options to obtain Su Camino… at Amazon.com:

  • Kindle Edition, $3.49
  • FREE to subscribers of Kindle Unlimited
  • Paper Edition, $7.95, £5.95, or €6.95
  • (FREE Shipping with Prime subscription)

All feedback graciously encouraged and appreciated.

An introspective global journey to awareness and self-discovery catalyzed by 20 summer days walking the Camino de Santiago, Su Camino… is one American baby boomer’s travelogue come preparation handbook full of Camino anecdotes and advice for the contemporary walker of “The Way.”

Steeped in world travels to the far corners of the world over the last two decades, Su Camino… is a layered mélange of travelogue, full of anecdotes from the trail; musings on my own journey of the spirit, and preparation handbook with great resources for any pilgrim, thru-hiker, or adventurer.

Wherever we may roam, there is adventure, there is spirit, and there is discovery.

All feedback graciously encouraged and appreciated.

A Perfect Day (a prep series precursor)

It was a perfect day for a 50k. Up with the 5:00 a.m. alarm for a cup of tea and a bowl of oatmeal. Then a warm shower loosening muscles still wishing this was all a joke. (I’m never up at o’dark thirty anymore.) Kathey was up early to drive me to the race start then off to watch grandkids play lacrosse in the rain before returning in time to see me at the finish (ultra-running isn’t (more…)

Oh So Many Things

Front cover, Su Camino...

Since returning from Spain last summer and sitting down to write about that experience, the one point of that resulting book people repeatedly take away is, “You guys walked 500 miles in 20 days!” We did the Camino Frances in 20 days, due to time constraints, and more as an athletic Camino than a pilgrimage. I too, just like walking and have a good pace, from years of experience.

However, WHEN I do another Camino, I will explore more, stick my head—and the rest of me—into churches more often, I will go to Samos, I’ll venture into museums, and go off the beaten path, go to that village not on the Camino to experience real rural Spain, away from the pilgrim crowds and supporting infrastructure.

Oh, so many things to see, so many roses to smell, so much cafe con leche to drink, so many people to chat with and enjoy their company. Enjoy your Camino, wherever it may lead.

A short excerpt from the book, Su Camino… “I’ve never felt so peaceful in mind, body and spirit as during my time on the Camino de Santiago. Oh sure, there were times when cursed at by a Spanish driver (a pretty senorita) for walking on the wrong side of her village street. Or, when navigating a narrow passage as a large transport truck bore down on the same space at the same time. And that seemingly relentless summer heat. Those temperatures would not have been so bad, I suppose, but our pace, our effort, our daily distance and hours on the trail, all compounded as a foundation of that persistent beast. However, never in my waking hours have I felt so at peace for such a long period of time as when in northern Spain, walking the Camino with my travel buddy Karla and hundreds of others—all friends, I didn’t know.”

 

When the Cat’s Away—the Weeds Grow

Photo credit: Reg Garcia Photography

Our moving to the Mayan Riviera for a portion of last winter was an experiment, one that included many questions: What would it cost? how long could we comfortably stay away from home? how badly would we miss all our friends and close relatives back home? where were the best tacos in town? were there decent (more…)

A Topless Goddess

Sunrise on a Calm Caribbean Playa del Carmen Sunrise on a Calm Caribbean

(This a composite of our adventures, representing a day in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, winter 2016.)

One moment a sea of heads bouncing and bobbing down Playa del Carmen’s eclectic Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue), the miles-long, slightly undulating promenade paralleling the Caribbean Sea; a path full of hawkers spread evenly block after block, all selling various zip-line and snorkeling tours, excursions to Mayan ruins and to Cozumel, taxis to most anywhere in the areas of Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Beautiful people, restaurants, shops, and stores—low-end trinket to high-end Michael Kors and Victoria’s Secret—a busy Starbucks every other block. Nike and Puma, Sephora and Forever 21. Too, ultra modern malls, all

Quinta Avenida by night, Playa del Carmen

Quinta Avenida by night, Playa del Carmen

glitter and glamor. All astride the most famous Avenue on the Yucatan Peninsula, known as the Mexican version of LAs Rodeo Drive.

Quinta Avenida, Playa del Carmen

Quinta Avenida by day, Playa del Carmen

However, as quickly as the day could by appreciated, it changed: a large black cloud loomed south of Playa, making its way north, bearing down on the huge crowds sauntering here and there. Vendors and other locals took note and slowly prepared for another afternoon downpour.

The deluge began as a light mist, quickly the sky darkened, so dark that sunglasses were pocketed, plastic bags and umbrellas made for the ready. Then as if a wall of water came upon us, it started coming down with a vengeance.

Our dilemmas, continue the two blocks to our condo, or duck into a mall. The rain helped us in our decision-making by quickly doubling its force—on its way to a full-blown squall. We passed locals and tourists all waiting, held tight to a wall or under an awning, all trying to stay dry. Quickly we were in the mall before getting completely soaked. Waiting out the storm while lunching at a top-floor restaurant, a good place to watch as Mother Nature washed the streets and a stranded few with a warm shower fresh off the sea.

Busy beach in front of the new Grand Hyatt, Playa del Carmen

Busy beach in front of the new Grand Hyatt

Earlier that same morning and while walking the beach well south of the Ferry Terminal, with ferries to Cozumel, as I walked beyond the exclusive community of Playacar, and as the morning progressed, crowds of sun seekers and families, runners and walkers, cleanup crews and lifeguards began to fill the beach.

Walking through the growing crowd—come gauntlet—full of old, large, shall I say, well-fed men and women in Speedos and bikinis, respectively. Americans don’t wear Speedos. More people and more Speedos (that look like her bikini bottoms—perhaps they share) as I made my way passed resorts and beautiful, vast vacation homes.

More and more Speedos. Then, as the rest of the world vanished from perception, a topless Goddess wading in knee deep surf, splashing about, her eyes closed, enjoying the sun–and all its resultant senses. Her hair up in a knot, bikini bottom (mostly bottom), body perfectly bronzed, perfectly…. I didn’t notice.

Later, back to Quinta Avenida with Kath, where we wandered in search of another taco and sat street side to watch as people, all sorts of people strolled by with one mission or another—or none. Playa attracts people mostly from the northern climes in winter: Minnesotans, Chicagoans, Canadians, Swedes, Finns, Brits and New Yorkers. They come to escape the cold and snow and wind of their hometown winters.

Best Tacos in Playa del Carmen, El Fogon

Best Tacos in Playa del Carmen, El Fogon

Some stay only a week, others for months and months, until the heat in Playa becomes too much. There are locals out with their wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend, their families, strollers and not. There are runners and walkers, a few bikes, though hard to navigate in the throngs of humanity (there is a dedicated bike path on 10th Avenue). There was an old Campesino gentleman, in his Sunday best as he walked to see family members in areas north of Centro Playa. He sported a fine straw hat and an ornate yellow shirt atop worn, but clean pantalones and very minimal and quite ancient sandals. A pride in his eyes, gratitude, humble and kind, and a love for those he planned to see this day.

There were musicians, and young men in traditional Mayan wear attracting customers to a restaurant or shop beautifully adorned with feathers, body paints, headdresses, loincloths, and sandals. And there were the hawks, the pushers of “junk you don’t need,” Cuban cigars, selfie-sticks; you name it (literally). They’ll say things like, “Remember me. I was your waiter last night at…” Every once in a while, they get someone, they hook them with this line and they walk them—as cattle to the slaughter—to their shop, for junk they don’t need.

La Cueva del Chango, Playa del Carmen

La Cueva del Chango, Playa del Carmen

Back to our condo to hang out until our friends returned from one excursion or another, then off to dinner at La Cueva del Chango (The Monkey’s Cave), our favorite fusion restaurant. On their return, we decided on a time for dining and I called Paulo to make reservations. Sometimes, most times, it is difficult to get into—for any meal. Chango is that good, and everyone knows it.

We didn’t need reservations this midweek evening, which only made for an even better experience, quieter, the staff not so pressured. The place is set street side, but we always prefer to dine in the back near the man-made stream, under the Mediterranean palms and bamboo swaying in the evening breeze. Paulo greeted us and led us to a nice table right beside the man-made stream and away from the speakers.

Their music is good, not that techno-beat crap you hear nearly everywhere in Playa, but conversations are more pleasant when you don’t have to yell to be heard. We are from rural America, where you don’t have to yell to be heard. We didn’t grow up in the Bronx or Jersey, where life is so loud everyone grows up yelling to be heard—even in Playa, at the rooftop BBQ, at our condo. But that’s another story.

We have loved our time in Playa del Carmen. We have enjoyed our time with friends that were staying nearby and that we could hangout with them for a while and other friends that came to stay with us in our condo for a week or more. We have come to know them better and to deeply appreciate our friendships. We always relish when our daughter and grandkids can join us as they did for a week early in our time in Playa. I had a great time swimming with my grandkids and the sharks at Xcaret Park. It’s pleasing to see them having fun and experiencing the world and its wonders.

We found great restaurants, shops, markets, fresh empanadas and great Mexican food. Too, great snorkeling spots and cenotes (caves). We’ve met wonderful people from all over and great people from Playa.

Hard work on new condos, Playa del Carmen

Hard work on new condos

When spending time in Mexico, I always come away with an overwhelming perspective that these people, whether of Mayan, Aztec, Toltec, or Spanish ancestry, all work very hard, have great pride for their cultures, and share an appreciation for the land and animals of Mexico.

 

Name Your Price, in Playa del Carmen

Better, cheaper, longer—or living large, what’s it going to be? The tagline for the well-known travel blogger, Nomadic Matt is Travel Better. Cheaper. Longer. That works great for many people and is my preferred method, especially when by myself or with like-minded friends, traveling fast and light, and out to discover.

playa del carmen grand hyatt

(more…)