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Welcome to our world of business information, museums, adventure, birding, botanical gardens, good eating and fine wines. This newsletter provides you with “The Welge Report for Cozumel.
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BACKGROUND: Dee and I have been going to Cozumel for more than 25 years. The time frame is the holiday season of Christmas and New Years.
For more than 20 of those years we have stayed at Condumel - Carretera Costera Norte Km.1.5 on the north Hotel Zone, 987/872-0892
Cousin Bill has 10 units located just North of San Miguel. It’s an easy walk to town where there are many good restaurants, shops, galleries and boutiques.
Our condo at Condumel has a living area, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. The fridge is stocked with essentials, and you pay for the things that you use such as: beer and water. Our unit is on the first floor with window walls facing the water and the beach.
I can be found in a large chair facing the water watching the boats go by, reading and writing. The snorkeling here is great as is the diving. It’s so safe that the President of Mexico has a residence next door.
A note about transportation in Cozumel. When arriving at the airport you may either rent a car, or purchase tickets at the Transporte Terreste counter. The latter places you in a van, and you tell your driver where you are going.
After arriving at your lodging via Transporte Terreste, you will find that taxis are readily available and moderately priced. When we reach our condo at Condumel the manager Sara and the owner meet us with smiles and hugs, and offer us whatever we need.
These are views that we enjoy at Condumel.
Birding Opps: Info for our birding friends. In and near Cozumel you can see these species: Yellow-backed Orioles, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Yucatan Jay, Ruddy Woodcreeper, Mexican Sheartail, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Philadelphia Vireo, Bay-breasted Warbler and American Flamingos.
At Wings Birding Tour (wingsbirds.com/tours/mexico-yucatan-cozumel/) you can read an interesting narrative and book a tour.
Eric gives us and interesting report on the Nuttybirder (nuttybirder.com/2012/12/birding-on-cozumel-island-day-1.html#.U6HSW_ldWrI)
Tropical Birding (tropicalbirding.com/2013/09/03/trip-report-mexico-yucatan-jan-2013-by-tropical-birding/) gives us an overview of the Yucatan.
Lunch is often at La Candela – M-Sa: 8-5, Calle 6 Norte and Av. 5, 987 878 4471
Hiram, the owner-chef makes a great mojito and the best corn soup (sopa de elote) in the world. The menu has lots of choices, and there are always a couple of specials.
Dee and I split the fajitas with guacamole, black beans and fresh salsa. There is also fresh chips accompanied by Rosario’s (Hiram’s wife and chef at La Choza) secret sauce. In addition to the menu there are always daily specials.
After this fortification you can snorkel or scuba dive. Most people come to Cozumel to do one or both.
The reefs here are world famous, especially the Palancar Reef according to Jacques Costeau. Another option is to spend some time on the beach with that book you’ve been trying to finish.
Dinner is at Especias – D: M-Sa, Calle 3 Sur, Bet. 5th & 10 Av. N, 987-876-1558, prepared by owner chef Francesco Ferraris.
Francesco is from Rome and his cooking reflects his heritage. His menu is inventive and has the big bold flavors that we love.
The first time we were there Dee and I shared an antipasto that had prosciutto, provolone, calamata olives and roasted vegetables. Dee had a steak and I had the Lion fish.
The second time we shared an appetizer of smoked salmon rolls filled with goat cheese on a bed of braised red cabbage.
Dee had the risotto with a red wine, walnut and parmesan sauce. I had the Bolognese with pasta. Their wine list is small but solid and very reasonably priced.
We enjoyed a Valpolicella Terre and the second night we had a San Giovese Piccinnini. The front of the house is in good shape under the guidance of Mariana Urquiza-Cohen, the chef’s wife.
Day 2: Start with breakfast at the restaurant located on the 2nd floor of the Museum of Cozumel - Restaurant hours - Daily: 7 AM – 11 PM, Avenida Rafael Melgar, San Miguel, 987 872 0838.
Willie and Victor meet us with hugs, and Willie seat us at a table that overlooks the harbor. Coffee arrives with the menu, but Willie has already written up our order.
We have the special “Country Man” that includes a bowl of fruit, eggs, black beans, chilaquiles, bacon, pico de gallo, toast and more coffee.
Willie provides us with information on how many cruise ships are expected that day, and if luminaries are on the island or coming to the island. Sometimes he even remembers to bring breakfast and pour more coffee.
The Museum of Cozumel was the first luxury hotel on the island, opened in 1936. It has an ongoing art collection and four large exhibit rooms that depict the history of Cozumel.
Your innkeeper can provide you with a list of activities such as: para-sailing, fishing, glass bottom boat tours, diving, golf etc. At Condumel this is Sara.
Your innkeepers are there to help you and are happy to do so. We recommend that you visit Chankanaab Park – Daily: 8-5, South Coastal Road
Chankanaab means “small sea” in Mayan. Here you will see petrified coral, many varieties of fish, a botanical garden, shops and restaurants.
Either before or after, visit Punta Sur – Daily: 9-5, South Point of the Island
Punta Sur is an ecological park located at the southern most point of the island. It’s dedicated to the preservation of local flora and fauna such as: a lagoon, mangrove swamps, birds, reptiles, fish and plants.
For lunch Dee and I head for La Choza – Daily: 7 AM – 10 PM, Avenida 10 #216, Bet. Salas & Calle 3 Sur, 987-872-0958, a long time favorite.
One of the Chef-Owners is Rosario Peralta, a mother of two and a very good artist.
We have four of her pieces at home, and she has at least one painting in the permanent collection at the Museum of Cozumel.
Our menu choices vary but we always begin with a beer, complimentary chips and Chayo’s addictive sauce.
They have the best tortilla soup on the island, and Dee is smitten with their mole. Check to see if they have a special whole snapper for your meal.
After lunch we suggest a visit to San Gervacio – Mayan Ruins – Daily: 8-4, Transversal Road
San Gervacio is the largest archaeological site on the island and was the sanctuary of the Goddess Ixchel. You can explore 5 buildings that were a part of the Mayan culture more than 900 years ago, and hear fascinating stories from local guides.
Back to San Miguel for a little libation and serious people watching at Palmeras –
Located in front of the main pier, Palmeras has been a landmark of the island for the past 40 years serving margaritas and beautiful sunsets.
Dinner is at Guido’s – L: M-Sa, D: Nightly, Avenida Rafael Melgar #23, Bet. 6 & 8 Sts.
To start we share the wahoo salad, thinly sliced with avocado and a fine herb dressing. Dee has the lasagna, a house specialty with bolognese and bechamel sauce.
I have the 4 seasons pizza, ham, mushrooms, black olives and asparagus, except I add anchovies which according to our long time waiter, Pavarotti, it becomes the 5 Seasons Pizza.
Breakfast today is our Cousin Bill’s favorite: Jeanie’s Restaurant and Beach Club – B, L, D: Daily, R E Melgar #790, 987-878-4647
Jeanie’s is downtown’s only restaurant on the beach. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bill says don’t miss Jeannie’s famous waffles.
Dee likes the Eggs Benedict -two fried eggs over toast, Virginia ham and hollandaise sauce, and I order the two fried eggs with onions, tomato and green pepper served with beans and bacon.
Your cultural activity today is focused on the arts. There are several local artists and boutiques that specialize in Mexican art that we have patronized over the years, and we would like to share with you.
Shopping: Retail in Cozumel varies from year to year. The saying “when the United States get a cold, Mexico gets pneumonia” is not as appropriate as it once was but it still has an effect.
Cozumel has its share of fine art and artisans. The retail shops that we have chosen have merchandise from art centers in Mexico and the world. Our suggestions:
Pama - Melgar Sur # 9, 52 987 872 0090 features upscale duty free shopping with top brands that are beautifully displayed.
Cinco Soles – M-Sa: 9-8, Su: 11-5, Av Rafael E Melgar y Calle 8 Norte, 52 987 8729 oo4
Here you’ll find artisan creations, clothing and pottery. They even have a restaurant.
Matis - Av Rafael E Melgar Norte, Be sure to ask for Adrian Luna. His father is a long time amigo and was our fishing guide for many years. His nickname “Big Grouper” says it all.
Dee and I and our fellow travelers became a part of their family. Matis is a unique store with goods from Turkey and Asia, all beautifully displayed.
Two of the artists we have gotten to know are: Greg Dietrich is a glass artist whose works can be found at his studio Galeria Azul – M-F: 11-7, Av. 15 Norte #449 Bet. 8th & 10th Sts, 987-869-0963
Greg has a beautiful gallery and also does commission pieces. He is designing a special piece in conjunction with our friends Gary and Kathy this trip.
Galo Ramirez is a fine artist working in oils and other media who has a funky show room and studio Galo Art Studio – Open Daily, 25 Av. con Primera, Col Centro, 987-102-0755, that doubles as his residence.
“Art supports itself in its own universe; with its own gravity and unique atmosphere . . .”
This is a pretty full agenda for the allotted time of 3 days and 2 nights. Call up your inn keeper and book an extension. After all, this is paradise.
And if you are staying an extra night we suggest dinner at Kinta or Kondesa prepared by Chef-Owner Kris Wallenta.
We shared the zucchini blossoms stuffed with 3 cheeses in a light tempura with roasted red pepper sauce. Then Dee had the filet mignon with a gratin of huitacoche and Chihuahua cheese, mashed potatoes and poblano pepper sauce.
I had the grilled scallops and shrimp with tomato corn salsa, cilantro pesto and rice. After dinner we had another nice walk to Condumel.
On the way to the airport we always stop by Lucy’s Tortillas- Av. 25 Sur., to pick up several packages of the best tortillas in the world.
Estamos vivitos y coleando,
Dick & Dee Welge
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