This time round we headed to Mexico. We spent two days in Mexico City, which we thought was sufficient for the city itself. Our first day we started off on a hop on hop off city bus (first time ever), as we were told by colleagues that this is a great way to get around the city… We cannot recommend it, except if you have a lot of spare time in the city. We wanted to get to the Frida Kahlo museum (http://www.museofridakahlo.org.mx/) ,had to change busses and when we got to the changing point had to wait over 30 mins for the next bus. So we decided to get a taxi. Once we got to the museum we had to queue as we had not pre-booked tickets. The queue was long but we were in in 30 mins. The entrance fee is about MXN $200. We definitely enjoyed it and think it is worth the money. The museum has original interiors from Kahlo and a small museum with some of her paintings. We then headed on to the historic center. Entering the Catedral Metropolitana had our mouths drop to the floor-you will most likely know why when you enter.
Street food in Mexico is good and Mexico City has lots of new restaurants opening up. One restaurant we went to and enjoyed is Fonda Fina (http://www.fondafina.com.mx/). The food was delicious, beautifully presented and they had a quirky selection of cocktails J
Whenever you go to a Mexican restaurant Nachos are served as a pre-dinner snack. After a few days we could not see a taco or nacho anymore, we felt we were nacho-ed out, but when some days later our dinner came without nachos, we ended up having to order some extra as we had gotten to love them 😀
From Mexico City we flew to the beautiful, colourful little town of Merida. Many low-cost airlines connect Mexico City with Merida. We flew with Viva Aerobus. Our taxi from the airport to downtown Merida was MXN $200. In Merida we stayed in a lovely hotel we can only recommend. It even has a hammock, A HAMMOCK!! In the room, how amazing is that?!? For two nights at the Hotel Boutique Casa San Angel (http://www.hotelcasasanangel.com/) for two people, including breakfast (though the breakfast is nothing to write home about, you are provided with a drink, some fruits and some pieces of toast) we paid MXN $ 3,543, which is reasonable. Staff were helpful and friendly and it is conveniently located near the most important attractions of Merida.
Casa San Angel’s courtyard
Walking around the streets of Merida and enjoying a cold beer in one of the local bars are great ways to experience the city. If you have some time, Palacio Municipal is worth strolling around. A word of CAUTION! If you are approached by a local recommending you to go to the Mundo Maya market, the market exists, but what they sell and the prices they sell it for are a scam! The Lucas de Galvez local market on the other hand is a great experience (and you can find some amazing leather shoes!!). It has everything, from fruit and vegetables to kitchen supplies, spices and leather shoes. Of course one pair were bought and now we are regretting that we did not buy more.
If you are in Merida on a Thursday evening definitely head over to Parque Santa Lucia for 9pm as they have an evening of Yucatecan Serenade, which for us included dancing and singing performances. This has been an ongoing event over the last 40 years.
If you are looking for an authentic local Mexican restaurant in Merida we recommend El Trapiche, a small, basic, family run, authentic restaurant (meaning the food is lovely and spicy) with delicious food and yummy cocktails as well as not very expensive.
After two nights in Merida we continued our journey. We hired a car and driver to take us to the mayan ruins of Uxmal and then on to Chichen Itza, for about MXN $ 3000. We started our journey (1hr 20mins) nice and early as we were recommended to try and get there before 9 am (this was the case with all the archeological sites due to the tour busses arriving after 10 am). Initially we were not going to visit Uxmal (so many archeological sites around Mexico), but after our hotel staff recommended it to us we decided to go-and we loved it. The entrance fee to Uxmal which is the fee for the archeological zone, plus another fee for CULTU is about MXN $225 p.p. Make sure to bring water, sunscreen and a hat as it can get very hot and there is hardly any shade around. We took our time walking around, needing 2.5hrs. When climbing up the steps a word of warning (not from both of us as one of us seems to be a very skilled steps climber…): the steps are very steep! The not so skilled step climber of the two of us ended up sliding down the steps on the bum (with the speed of a sloth).
View of part of the Uxmal archeological site with the pyramid in the background
On the steep steps of the Governor’s Palace with the beautiful stone mosaic work in the background
From Uxmal we continued our journey on to Chichen Itza as we had booked a hotel there for the night. We stayed in the Mayaland Hotel & Bungalows (http://www.mayaland.com/mayaland-hotel-and-bungalows/) for one night (US $173), which has a private side entrance to Chichen Itza and some rooms with a view of the mayan observatory. The room is great for its views and location. We were at the gate getting our ticket as soon as Chichen Itza opened (8am, MXN $245). Unfortunately, when we asked about opening times, the hotel forgot to inform us that there are sunset and sunrise tours, which is a shame as we would have loved to have gone on a sunrise tour (a lot less people). Though, if you do decide to go on a sunrise tour you need to get your ticket from the main gate the evening before and they need to have sold at least 6 tickets in order for them to open their gates at 5am for the sunrise tour. We got a tour guide for the grounds of Chichen Itza who was absolutely amazing, in various ways. First of all, he was very knowledgeable (we could write down a lot of information here, but you would then be reading for days, if you are interested though do feel free to message and ask), secondly he fell asleep while walking, managing to miss trees and continue on with the sentence after a couple of seconds napping). We thoroughly enjoyed our tour for the information we gained and the entertainment part of it.
View of the mayan observatory from our bathroom Jacuzzi
In front of the famous pyramid of Chichen Itza
From Chichen Itza we continued on to Valladolid. From Valladorid we went on a day trip to Ek Balam (as we mentioned earlier, Mexico was our trip of ancient mayan cities). We took a collectivo from the center of the city for MXN $50 p.p., which took about 45mins. Ek Balam is a lot smaller and less crowded than the other archeological sites. The next day we rented bicycles from Bicicletas Zaci and cycled to the Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula (MXN $ 125) which are both located on the same premises.
Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula
Both of the Cenotes were lovely and a great place to go, but our real highlight for cenotes is the cenote at Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman. It is located next to the Hacienda, a gorgeous old house. You have the option of visiting the cenote only (MXN $70) or turn it into a whole day of relaxation visiting the cenote and the pool (MXN $100). Food and drinks are also served. We really enjoyed this cenote and spent a good 2hrs here, jumping off the side into the cenote and enjoying the water.
The cenote at Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman
For an evening drink we walked into a bar just off a street off the main square. Little did we know that this bar comes with a view-if you walk up two floors… The Condesa Cocina Bar (http://condesa-cocina-bar.negocio.site/) has rooftop seating with a view of the cathedral. And an interesting selection of cocktails.
For breakfast we enjoyed our local Mexican breakfast in the food court just across from the main plaza. We got our food and fruit juice from a place called Loncheria El Amigo Casiano, but there are more places to choose from in this court, so one is spoilt for choice J
From Valladorid we made our way to gorgeous Tulum…via…yes, you have guessed it, another archeological site, this time Coba (entrance MXN $64), famous for its tall pyramid (Nohoch Mul) which one can still climb (once again this was a sliding down on one’s bum kind of thing for one of us). Coba is on the way from Valladolid. The site is a little larger than previous sites and there are bicycles available for rent by the entrance. Before renting bicycles though we decided to pay for a tour guide and have him explain all the background information to us. There is the option of a longer tour (ca. 2hrs) and a shorter one, the shorter one does not take you to the pyramid, but focuses on the site around the entrance, this is what we did and is great for background information. After our little tour we got some bicycles (definitely worth doing if you do not have the whole day to spend in Coba) and cycled to the big pyramid as well as other places of interest around the archeological site. We spent approximately 2.5 hrs there. The view from the top of the pyramid is amazing
The amazing view from the top. As a word of WARNING… the steps are really steep and can be slippery, if you climb up make sure to wear appropriate footwear.
We then headed off for a little beach time to beautiful Tulum!! And we fell in love with Tulum! Tulum has gorgeous beaches (as we have been told, there is a group of locals who are part of a group cleaning up the beaches) and restaurants. The beach road consists of hotels, restaurants and little boutiques. We stayed in an eco-hotel called Mamasan (http://mamasan-treehouses-cabins-carretera-boca-paila-km-65.besthotelstulum.com/en/). It consists of 4 Bungalows with rooms on the ground floor and first floor. The place is trying to be as eco-friendly as, meaning no plastic bottles for water, but a glass jug of water in the rooms with which to fill up one’s own bottles, the interiors are made of natural materials, straws are not used and instead of an air conditioner the rooms are equipped with fans. If you have read our post about Lombok you will remember that after seeing all the rubbish in the ocean in Lombok we are trying to cut down on plastic, so this place is right up our street. It is not the cheapest place to stay (two nights US $417), but we loved this place and would definitely come back again. The place has its own restaurant/bar. Food is delicious (we especially enjoyed our breakfast). The place is not on the beach, but the beach is a two-minute walk away.
USEFUL INFORMATION: If you are staying in one of the hotel’s on Tulum’s main coastline, be aware there are no ATM’s close by that disperse MXN$, they are ATM’s with US$ and charge you a fortune so if you are planning on paying with MXN$, make sure you go to the cash point beforehand.
For one of our days in Tulum we decided to rent bikes and cycle to-yes you might have guessed it, the Tulum archeological site… Out of all the ones we have been to this one is nice, but not as impressive as the others, though the backdrop with the ocean is gorgeous. And when you go, head down to the beach which is part of the archeological site. This beach is mouth droppingly beautiful and the water clear!
And as our last recommendation for your time in Tulum, go for ice cream! Not just any ice cream, but ice cream from Origami (https://www.facebook.com/origamitulum/). After having worked our way through a fair amount of ice cream places in different parts of the world, this one is one of the best we have tried so far. If chocolate with cardamom ice cream, or spicy cinnamon sounds like your kind of ice cream, you will regret not having gone.
The deliciousness that is, ice cream from Origami 😀
We have fallen in love with Mexico and hope to be back again. Staying two days in Tulum was definitely not enough and we were sad to have to leave and get back to life. All that is left for us to say is “Salud”, until next time Mexico