Another interesting place we visited in the Merida, Mexico centro historico was the Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace), right downtown. This was on the recommendation of our bed and breakfast host, Larry, and it was spectacular. It is absolutely free to enter and consists of sizable painted murals depicting the history of Merida.
From the second floor, the view of the Merida Cathedral out the windows was as amazing as the murals.
A couple more murals...I found the description of this one more interesting than the battle scenes.
Leaving the museum, right outside is the stunning Merida Cathedral. It was pretty much impossible to get it all in a frame since we don't have a wide-angle lens. It was built in 1598 -- hard to imagine!
Here are a couple of other pretty churches from around the city.
And finally, a smattering of the colonial houses and residential streets we loved so much as we walked around town.
And finally, here's the hotel we almost stayed in until I decided on La Casa Lorenzo at the last minute. It's called the Hotel Medio Munda, and we just happened upon it while walking. Absolutely darling!
Please stay tuned for Merida at night!
Merida, in the Yucatan state of Mexico, is a historic city with so much to see. We spent our three days in the city walking until our feet were tired, taking in the interesting sights, local color, and architecture all around us. Here's a sampling....
We knew we were not in Belize any more when we saw this store! I must admit, we did take advantage of the lower prices on toothpaste and a couple of other small things, but we were traveling so light we couldn't buy much.
The sidewalks downtown were very busy and slow to negotiate. It was a couple of Saturdays before Christmas, so everyone was out shopping til they dropped. I think all we bought was our Panama hats.
One thing we started noticing all over Mexico was the number of Volkswagen Beetles. They were everywhere! This is the car I learned to drive in, so I have always had a special affinity for them, and it was fun to see so many of them during our travels. I am not sure what the deal is with VWs and Mexico, but they sure are here in droves! Some beautifully restored, others not; in all colors of the rainbow. We'd often count three or four in close proximity. So here's the first of a few VW Beetle photos we'll share, and there will be more as the blog entries continue.
I'm feeling a Merida FOOD post coming up next, so STAY TUNED!
Merida, in the Yucatan state of Mexico, has an awful lot to recommend it: the beautiful architecture, the great restaurants, the cultural activities, and the many parks being among its attractions. And in the winter, the weather is absolutely beautiful. However, one of the Merida traditions we were most excited about was the Bici-Ruta or bicycle route. This occurs every Sunday morning, when a long stretch of streets, including the Paseo de Montejo, are closed off to motor vehicle traffic, allowing cyclists and pedestrians to take over and cruise up and down more easily. We were absolutely delighted that our visit would allow us to participate in this fun event since we had a full Sunday in the city.
We rented two cruiser bikes right on the Paseo (between Calle 45 and 47) and joined the other cyclists on the street. The hourly cost was just $40 MX (approximately $3.20 US) for the two bikes -- a deal.
There were some really interesting human-powered vehicles among the more conventional bicycles.
Near the north end of the route was El Monumento a la Bandera, the Monument to the Flag.
He made me pose at the monument too. Looking at these photos now, I can't get over how blue the sky was! It was a perfect day for a bike ride.
Although in most of the photos it appears that there weren't many others on the routes, at times we ran into real bottlenecks of meandering cyclists, children on tiny bikes, dog walkers, and people who had obviously not ridden a bike since their own childhood, so we did have to pay attention and stay on our toes. There were also several places with traffic circles and motor vehicle crossings, so we'd have to stop and leave in a bunch. Still, it was great fun, and our hats are off to the many volunteers who direct traffic and help out on this event. It is all the more impressive when you consider that that they do this every single week, year-round. In the US, something like this would happen once a year at best. You have to love a city that holds cyclists and pedestrians in high enough regard to make this a weekly event.
Merida, we ♥ you!
Please stay tuned for more from this fine city.
One of our favorite things about visiting a new city is trying out new-to-us restaurants. Merida has a reputation for having great food, and we weren't disappointed.
Our first night in the city, we were too tired from our travel day and lots of walking for most of the day to do much for dinner. We decided to walk around the corner from La Casa Lorenzo to a pizza place Larry recommended and bring home a pie to eat in his bar area, which we'd have all to ourselves, since we were the only guests at the bed and breakfast. This vegetarian pizza did not disappoint. Of course Barry got my olives, and I got his mushrooms. Yum!
The next morning, Larry said that he would either serve us breakfast (included in our room rate) or take us to a very authentic Mexican place to eat, Wayane. Always up for something novel, of course we chose the latter, and it didn't disappoint.
Our juices -- Barry had chaya/pineapple (the green one), and Larry and I ended up with tamarindo, though we thought we ordered mandarin orange -- must have been our Spanish! No matter, it was delicious.
As with our juice orders, there were some misunderstandings with my food order. I though I'd ordered three different egg tacos (with various add-ins), but ended up with only one egg and two meat (chicken and pork). They were delicious but way more food than I really needed. Larry successfully got three egg tacos.
Despite the small ordering snafus, this place was a really fun experience, and the food was great. If we hadn't been staying at Larry's, we would never have known about it, and it was a bit of a drive in his car, so we wouldn't have gotten to enjoy this authentic breakfast. Thanks Larry!
For lunch we tried a place we'd read about on Tripadvisor, Chaya Maya, recommended for authentic Yucateca food. It is downtown and super popular with locals and visitors as well. The waiters spoke almost no English, and the menus were in Spanish as well, making it an interesting experience, but we did just fine.
We started with a cold cervasa and complimentary chips and sauces. Yummy.
We both tried the Turkey Panuchos, a traditional Yucatecan dish. They were really colorful and tasted great.
An interesting thing; there was a woman making tortillas on one side of the restaurant. Very cool!
After eating two very authentic Mexican meals, we decided to do something completely different for dinner. On Larry's recommendation, we strolled down the Paseo de Montejo and ate at an Irish pub/restaurant, Hennessey's. And even stranger, we ordered pasta! And it was actually very good! It was a light chicken and veggie pasta, leaving us room for a yummy dessert.
We shared two different (and very lovely) desserts, cheesecake and chocolate terrine. They tasted as good as they looked!
Please stay tuned for much more from Merida!
Unfortunately, the elegant Palacio Cantón, which houses the Regional Museum of the Yucatan, was closed for renovation. It was the gem of the Paseo to our eyes.
At the south end of the Paseo was this entry to a hotel and restaurant, and park area decorated festively for Christmas. We had fun playing around and taking some photos here.
Another very cool Paseo happening occurs each and every Sunday morning, where the street is closed off to motorists and open to cyclists and pedestrians. But we'll save that for another post. Stay tuned!
In yesterday's post we'd just arrived at our bed and breakfast for the next three nights, La Casa Lorenzo. It's a beautiful colonial home in Merida's Centro district, in the St. Ana neighborhood. I have been fascinated by the colonial architecture of Merida since seeing a couple of episodes of House Hunters International. While plain at the street-side, the wonders that often lurk behind the doors can be breathtaking, so I was excited to be staying in one of these beautiful homes.
Larry, the host and owner, recently bought and remodeled the home into a bed and breakfast, adding lovely guest rooms furnished in antiques and with colorful Mexican tiles. Our room was charming and comfortable, and we happened to be the only guests staying for the three nights we were there, so it was really quiet and private -- perfect.
There's an outdoor bar/kitchen area for guests' use with a fridge, microwave, and sink. Larry made and served us a welcome margarita that was very welcome indeed! He also provided maps and lots of good information on places to see, things to do, and good restaurants to try during our visit to Merida. Very helpful!
The enclosed courtyard is perfectly private and has plants, a couple of fruit trees, a seating area, and a great little pool. I did go in once, but it was pretty chilly this time of year.
Our room, room 5, was the closest to the bar and courtyard area. Depending on the number of guests there at the time, this might be a noisier room, but since we had the place to ourselves, it was just fine.
Heading back into Larry's part of the home, here's his personal dining room. I love the pasta floor tiles in here -- wish I'd thought to have Barry take a close-up.
Here's Larry's well-equipped kitchen...
and the parlour with amazingly high ceilings, lovely pasta tiles, and a computer for use by guests.
The simple exterior belies what lies behind the doors...
See, I told you I made it into the pool, not much deeper than this, though!
Heading out to eat one night -- we bought these Panama hats in Merida.
Being a little silly...
Stay tuned for much more on the beautiful and fascinating city of Merida as we venture outside of Casa Lorenzo!
After two full days and three nights, it was time to hit the road again, heading north to Merida from Tulum. We'd be traveling to a different Mexican state today, from Quintana Roo to Yucatan.
We've neglected to include a map of our travels so far, so here is a map showing our route through Merida. We'll continue updating it as we travel along.
After breakfast, we headed to the Tulum ADO bus station, a very short walk.
Today's journey was to be made on a "luxury class" bus called an ADO gl, which is pronounced, we found out from watching ads on the DVDs in the bus, like "ADO hell". Ha! It was much closer to heavenly than hellish, however. A very comfortable ride indeed. We were given free bottles of water, earbuds for listening to audio, and there were multiple DVD players playing American movies that were dubbed in Spanish. We discovered that with most movies, even speaking just a bit of Spanish, we were able to figure out enough of what was going on from the video to follow along.
Unfortunately, this was to be our only ADO gl bus of the trip, though we didn't know it at the time. They just don't run that many routes, and most of them seem to run near Cancun. For the most part we were on regular first-class ADO buses from this point on, but they were still plenty nice, and a bit cheaper than the gl buses. There is a bus even more luxurious than the gl called the ADO Platinum, but we never even saw one that I recall. Wonder if they serve champagne and caviar?
The ride from Tulum to Merida was approximately three and half hours. The first thing we noticed when pulling into the Merida bus terminal was how huge it was. Merida is a much bigger city than Tulum; we felt like we had just arrived in New York City!
Even though we had a good Merida map in hand, we found ourselves a bit disoriented as we hit the city streets until we figured out the street numbering. Odd-numbered streets run east and west, and even-numbered streets run north and south. Streets are marked on each corner, making the Centro portion of Merida easy to negotiate once you know where are! And one thing was for sure -- we were not in Belize any more!
We gradually got ourselves oriented and pointed in the direction of the bed and breakfast where we'd be staying for the next three nights. It was about a two-mile hike north (though stil in the historic "Centro" area of Merida), but we'd be stopping for lunch part way to rest our shoulders. Carrying my pack definitely got a bit tiring, but catching a taxi takes all the adventure out of the journey, right!?
There were many parks along the way, so we stopped here for a rest and drink of water. All of Merida's parks are wi-fi enabled (though we didn't know it at the time), as well as many of the parks in other cities in Mexico. Very cool!
We didn't know where we'd stop for lunch, but a friendly man speaking English lured us into this cute "Margaritas Time" restaurant along the way with the promises of cold cervasas and good food at good prices, so we succumbed. The restaurant was pretty empty as Mexicans tend to eat lunch much later than Americans, and dinner too.
The lunch special of the day was just 50 pesos (approximately $4 US), which couldn't be beat, so that's what we had. Chicken, rice, and dessert were all included. The beers would cost us extra...but not much.
The friendly waiter took our photo.
These sauces were yummy -- spicy habenero and mild garlic cream.
The Pollo Pibil was delicious -- falling off the bone. This is a very popular dish in the Yucatan (for pork as well as chicken) and is traditionally cooked in banana leaves.
Creme Caramel for dessert - yum. All this (plus chips and dipping sauces) for $4 is just crazy! But in a good way, for us.
Well-fortified, we were able to continue on our way to La Casa Lorenzo, a bit north of downtown and on a quiet residential street. Perfect!
Stay tuned for much, much more on La Casa Lorenzo and Merida in the days to come!
The rest of these photos didn't really fit into any of our previous blog posts on Tulum, so this is just a miscellaneous round-up of sights seen around town to finish out our 2.5 days in Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico. As you'll probably notice in these photos, town itself was not crowded at all while we were there the first week in December. When we passed back through at the end of our trip for one night, it was filled to the brim with tourists there for Christmas and/or the end of the Mayan calendar. Big difference!
Stay tuned as next your intrepid travelers head to Merida, Mexico!
We hope that everyone has a happy and healthy 2013! Thanks so much for taking the time to read our blog and share our adventures with us.
With warm wishes for the year ahead,
Emily & Barry