The Cultural Capital of Yucatan
We finally arrived at Merida after a long day of sightseeing at Uayma and the famous Mayan site in Chichen Itza, accompanied by a refreshing dip in the nearby cenotes. Merida has been the cultural capital of the Yucatan peninsular since the Spanish conquest. It is famous for its colonial building, narrow streets, spacious plazas and museums. Some say it is one of the most beautiful towns in Mexico and we would quite possibly disagree, we found Valladolid and Izamal a lot more charming than Merida .
Stroll into Merida Centre
After a relaxing breakfast outside on the terrace at our Airbnb we strolled back into town, this time in daylight. Most of the buildings we passed were residential and single story. The houses were colourfully painted, some in desperate need of renovations or even beyond repair collapsing in piles of rubble and weeds, others were more colourfully decorated but mainly modern in style. None of them seemed to be like the promised colonial mansions we expected from the pictures in the guidebooks. We could see though that even here most people were not very wealthy or perhaps did not seem to care much about their living conditions.
Parque de la Mejorada
We got back to Parque de la Mejorada with its heroic statue. From here we went south along Calle 50, past the Arco de Dragones (Archway), which proved to be simpler than anticipated. Our goal was to get to the Mercado Lucas de Galvez. There we wanted to have lunch at a lonchería, a simple restaurant only open for lunch serving local dishes.
The Busy Streets of Merida
The closer we got to the market the busier it got on the roads and the pavements. There were people selling their goods off a wheelbarrow, or plainly just out of some bags and boxes. We passed the flower market, where we saw beautiful arrangements for the graves and altars for the Day of the Dead due that weekend. In general the town was much much more hectic and busy than Valladolid. I loved watching the locals go by their daily duties and to take photos of them. Many of the woman dressed in their gorgeous huipiles (traditional dresses). Chris and Jerome though were starting to get annoyed by the masses of people and I guess being hungry did not help with our mood.
Lunch at a Loncheria
We got a table at the lonchería, which had been recommended in our Airbnb guide book. They served a speciality of kebab like spiced grilled meat with tacos, a dish called “Taquos al Pastor” and vegetables. The lonchería seemed popular with locals, who sat, like us, on foldable chairs. It felt like a very authentic experience compared to the previous night restaurant visit. Chris and I found the meat to be very tasty but Jerome only ate the tacos with some of the vegetables.
The Local Market Hall
After lunch we strolled into the market hall behind the loncherias. I have always loved visiting markets all over the word. It is amazing some of the things you can find in the stalls and much more interesting than going to a mall where you find the usual high street shops you can get anywhere. After filling their tummies the boys even seemed to enjoy browsing the goods on display. Here we found an array of stalls, divided over two floors. They sold everything from meat, fruit and vegetables to souvenirs and clothes. I found a Mexican top as a gift for my mum and a dress with Otomi (Mexican embroidery from Oaxaca area) style embroidery for myself. Both at a really good price, but not too cheap which would make me feel guilty towards the women who sit all day long doing the embroidery by hand. Jerome liked the slot and games machines and watched a guy lose a few pesos.
Sightseeing in Merida
After exploring the vibrant streets of Merida and the local market hall we wandered on to the Plaza Grande at the centre of town. Merida offers some beautiful sights including churches and interesting colonial buildings and museums showcasing local life, plus plenty more shopping. We were also excited to witness the “Day of the Dead” celebrations during our stay in town. More in our future post.
Recommended Hotels on the Yucatan Peninsular
A beautiful ecological boutique hotel set in lush surroundings on the outskirts of Valladolid with a mystic underground cave pool.
This charming design hotel set around a small courtyard pool has a great central location for exploring Merida.
Playa del Carmen
HM Playa del Carmen offers a cool pool and spacious rooms within walking distance of restaurants, shops and the beach.
Splurge and treat yourself to pure luxury at this stunning beachfront property.
Follow us on Social Media