3/04/2016

Travel Diary - Yucatán Peninsula Part 2: Mérida


The next stop on our Mexican road trip was Mérida (catch our first stop here). On our way into town, we stopped at the most famous Mayan ruin in the Yucatán, Chichen Itza.

Named one of the new seven wonders of the world, the scale of the ruins is quite impressive, but both B and I preferred the quieter and more intimate Ek' Balam. Showing up at Chichen Itza was a little bit like showing up at Disney Land. Tour buses crowded the parking lot and vendors lined the walkways of the ruins - and we beat the rush by showing up at 8:30am. Still worth the visit - especially since it was on our way to Mérida - just be prepared for a crowd.

The actual city of Mérida was a dream. A colorful city, full of historic architecture and culture. Great food, great music, great streets for strolling. We only spent a couple days here and didn't have any set agenda, but thoroughly enjoyed wandering to discover the city's gems.

Where to Stay:
- Rosas y Xocolate was one of my favorite hotels I've stayed in. Aside from the fact that everything is pink and they specialize in chocolate, the best part of the hotel was the private outdoor bathtubs so you can bathe under the stars.

Where to Eat:
- Rosas y Xocolate was rated one of the best restaurants in the city and lucky for us, was steps away from our room. For a more romantic setting, request a table in the courtyard. To be where all the action is, sit out on the patio over looking the street.
- I honestly don't remember the names of the other places we ate - we tend to just stumble to places that look good and usually get pretty lucky. We really didn't have a bad culinary experience in Mérida.
- Wherever you end up eating, try the cochinita pibil (slow marinated pork), the local dish of the Yucatán. It comes in all sorts of varieties and is always made a little differently, but I am still craving the cochinita pibil tacos.

What to Do: 
- Plan to be in town on a Sunday. The city shuts down several of the streets surrounding the main plaza and fills the square with street vendors and live music for one big party.
- Check out Chichen Itza or some of the other lesser known Mayan ruins in the area. There are quite a few.
- Skip the taxi and grab a horse and buggy to transport you around town.
- If horses aren't your thing, rent a bike. And if you like your biking to be a community experience, join in for La Bici Ruta, the Sunday ritual where several of the main streets close down and bikers gather for a slow roll style stroll.
- If you want to take a day trip for some non-resort beach towns, it's only about a 30 minute ride to the coast.

What Not to Do:
- Rent a Camaro convertible. Sounds lovely in theory, but the chances of you being confused for drug dealers and pulled over at a police check point and asked to exit your car while 4 officers with rifles thoroughly search your entire car and all your belongings is high.

Tips:
- See above's "What not to Do."