The Colonial Town of Merida
Merida Travel Blog› entry 9 of 15 › view all entries
October 24th, 2009 – by: lrecht
Another easy drive from Chichen Itza to Merida before getting somewhat lost in the sprawling city. We eventually made it to the central part of town where our hotel, Luz En Yucatan is located. Even though the streets are laid out in a one way grid, we had some trouble finding the hotel and ended up circling by it multiple times before finally locating it on a small side street next to a small park and church. Luz En Yucatan is a great little boutique hotel that is really nice with coffee and bottled water, a couple of complimentary welcome beers, nicely furnished and sized rooms and a beautiful little patio on the pool.
After kicking back with a beer at the pool we asked the manager for a lunch recommendation and he suggested getting comida typical at Los Almendros which was several blocks walk away and somewhat of an upscale restaurant. Cindy ordered very tasty Cochinita Pibil and I tried the Pavo de Relleno Negro which is a turkey dish with spiced meat in a rich, dark, spicy sauce and topped with hard-boiled eggs. Our waiter was a really funny guy who certainly knows how to work the table for a tip. He tried to teach us how to speak Mayan which we didn’t really do to well. The food was excellent and the beers chilly.
After a grueling day of travel and sites, we decided an afternoon nap was in order, followed by a refreshing dip in the really nice pool. Merida closes some of the main streets on weekend evenings and turns it into a really cool walking, eating, drinking environment both down at the Plaza Grande and a little north of the hotel by another park. We had heard rumor of some tasty, local food at the park a few blocks north but apparently they took Saturday night off as not much was going on there so we tramped back south to the Plaza Grande and roamed around the square and the crowded streets. There were performers in the square (especially some freaky Mexican clowns) and vendors everywhere as well as the ubiquitous horse and carriage guys that seem to be in most every Mexican square.
As usual, we had extreme trouble deciding where to eat and finally opted for dinner at a place called “Main Street” at the Grande Hotel which looked a bit touristy but had a cool wait staff. It actually ended up being nice with good food, great atmosphere and frosty cold drinks.
After dinner, the waiter insisted on walking us around the corner to a local, Mayan handicrafts store where we walked around a bit before being escorted into the “inner chamber” where authentic artifacts including some pretty wild masks and lots of other pottery, paintings and carvings were available for seriously exorbitant prices. One piece of pottery I picked up and liked was something like $750 and some of the masks which were incredibly ornate and inlaid with semi-precious stones and mother of pearl were thousands of dollars. We politely declined purchasing that evening and headed back to Luz En Yucatan to watch a movie on the laptop, sip a tequila or two in the hammock and waft off to sleep.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Sunday morning and we woke up early to go check out the food vendors at the Plaza Grande before heading down to the local market. At the square, we had a very tasty and inexpensive Torta for breakfast comprised of a fresh bun, grilled and chopped chicken and cilantro and salsa – all that was missing was a beer (which I am sure they sold but it was kinda early).
A brief stop at an incredibly crowded little set of clothing stalls to buy our nieces a gift where I witnessed Cindy’s bargaining prowess first hand and then we were off to the massive Mercado Municipale which is the locals market for everything from meat to fish to vegetables to tortillas and candy. We love going to these kind of markets and roaming around.
After we wore ourselves out meandering through the crowded markets we walked back to the Plaza Grande and had a lunch of Panuchos overlooking the park and walked around the square a bit before stopping at a local store and investing in some Leon and Dos XX to sip poolside back at Luz En Yucatan and relax for the afternoon.
All over Merida are old street signs like the one in the ochre picture showing Calle 59 and the Dog (perro en espanol). Apparently, these were put there by the invading Spaniards to teach the Mayans how to speak Spanish rather than their local languages. Some of them are supposedly originals but most of them have been restored or replicated.
We ended up going to a restaurant called Los Henequenes that was recommended and, while it had an impressive bar that stretched to the ceiling, had somewhat of a disappointing dinner. The place was virtually empty and the waiters all lackadaisical and an anemic band were playing. It was written up as a family place to grab beers and eat tasty appetizers and it really failed to deliver.
Tomorrow we head off to see a Hacienda and then the ruins at Uxmal before the long drive to Campeche on the western side of the peninsula where hopefully the food will be better than tonight’s dinner!
Monday, October 26, 2009
So it’s off to Campeche with a nice start to the day.
Having heard that Merida is known for its pastries, we decided to walk to a local pastry shop and the bank before packing up the Dodge Challenger and heading out on the road. I am sure the woman in the incredibly hot bakery shop with the ovens burning behind her thought we were of diminished mental capacity when it took us forever to figure out what everything was and what to order. They were good but not great so we bade adios to Luz en Yucatan and headed off to Hacienda Ochil which the manager said was a great hacienda to visit and serves a really good lunch.
Merida was really nice and we will be sad to leave (especially Luz en Yucatan) but hopefully Campeche will prove just as charming and fun...
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