August 27, 2017
This Mexican state is known for its Gulf of Mexico beaches and the Mayan ruins. It has some of the prettiest sights in the world. We spent 4 days in different parts of the state starting with the largest city in the state and the state capital, Merida.
Merida is only a short 2-hour flight away from Mexico city. It is a Spanish colonial town with colorful buildings and cobbled streets. Do yourself a favor and park your car in one of the parking lots close to the Zocalo and walk down the cobbled streets. Walking down the streets, you will find Bakeries, restaurants, and shops at every corner. We stopped at a Bakery for some Mexican desserts.
Merida is a very tourist friendly place. We spent a few hours exploring and shopping in the markets. Best way to explore the city is by walk or by horse carriage ride. There are colorful, decorated horse carriages offering guided tours of the city (30 min to an hour long tours cost 200 to 300 pesos). We took an evening sunset ride. Our guide not only showed us around, he also gave us some insider info on where to get the best food 😉
He dropped us near the cathedral, just in time for the evening show at the Zocalo. Every Friday night, the streets around the Zocalo are closed down and the area is transformed into an open-air theatre. Usually, they have some folk dance shows or folk plays. Grab some drinks and sit back and enjoy the show with the locals 🙂
Later that night, we headed to La Jarana restaurant for dinner. The restaurant had good ambiance. There was a Mariachi band who came over and played a romantic song for us 🙂 (you have to pay 50 pesos per song). After dinner, we hit the road. We drove 2 hours to reach Chichen Itza late in the night.
Day 2 :
Started our day with some REAL breakfast at our hotel, Villas Arqueologicas, a comfortable budget hotel, very close (5-minute walk) to Chichen Itza site. After loading on some carbs, we headed to see one of the “New 7 Wonders of the World”.
Chichén Itzá, which was once the most powerful city in all of Yucatan; is a popular tourist destination today and one of the most visited Mayan ruins in the Yucatan. It is spread over a 5 square kilometer area and is an architectural marvel. The Castillo, The Warrior’s Temple, and The Great Ball Court, all those stone buildings were constructed around 600 AD. They have survived the worst of the weather and wars! This photo is of “El Castillo”, the temple of Kukulkan, the feathered serpent deity. Apparently, on the Spring and Autumn equinoxes, the shadows cast by the northwest corner of the pyramid evokes the appearance of a serpent wriggling down the staircase. Word of caution: It is very difficult to find a spot to pose in front of this pyramid without other tourists photo-bombing you! So plan to reach early if you want to avoid all other tourists.
The Mayans were not only great architects, they were also great astronomers. If you are at Chichén Itzá, do not miss the 30-minute documentary show on Mayan history at the Planetarium. Usually, they have a light show at night narrating the history of Chichen Itza and Mayan people. The town had a power outage for that night and the show was canceled. It was a surprise candlelight dinner for us that night back at the hotel 😛
Tips: Chichén Itzá is always crowded and very hot in summer. The best time to avoid the crowd and the heat would be to be there at 8 AM when it opens.
Before we headed towards Las Coloradas, we visited Cenote Ik-Kil. It would be a shame to miss a dip in a cenote if you are in this part of the world! A cenote is a natural sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Cenote Ik-Kil is a couple of miles from Chichén Itzá archeological site. It has waterfalls and green vegetation hanging all the way down to the clear crystal water, which is perfect to swim and snorkel. We spent an hour over there and got back on the road.