After an extra night spent in Palenque, we made the decision to skip the town of Campeche (roughly halfway between Palenque and Merida). Campeche is supposed to be a pristine, well restored fortress-style city, but unfortunately, accommodation did not appear to gel with a backpacker budget.
We arrived in Merida after an 8-hour bus ride, and we were excited to have finally reached the Yucatan, Mexico’s tourism hotspot, and renowned for its sunny weather. What greeted us was a flash-flood.
We scuttled into an Uber and asked him to take us to Nomadas, where we would try our luck for a room. Luckily, they had a private room, so we booked in for three nights. Nomadas is great. They have an excellent pool, clean facilities, and offer salsa lessons, cooking classes and yoga, free of charge. Shortlist this one for your stay.
The next day rain had subsided, so we headed out to explore the city, and quickly found the famed heat! However, it is a beautiful city, and while touristy, is big enough so that you aren’t pestered on the street.
We wandered through the main square, a few markets, and found a few nice cafes. We then headed up to Merida’s equivalent of the Champs-Élysées; Paeo de Montejo. This boulevard is flanked by old mansions and up-market restaurants and cafes. It is highlighted by an immense roundabout, where we managed to snap this shot (with the help of a police officer).
It is a really nice stroll down here, and you will also come across a Wal-mart where you can stock up on dinner ingredients if you are catering that way! We topped the day off with one of the cooking classes, where we made some delicious fish tacos with a citrus coleslaw. Our instructor was really up beat and friendly, and was really good at getting people involved. Easily the highlight of the cooking class was making our own tortillas, which is quite easy (if you have a press), and is something we will definitely be trying when we settle in Europe!
While Merida was nice, activities are limited in the city, so we decided we would take a day-trip somewhere, and landed on the beach town of Progreso (since we hadn’t really seen a beach since La Paz). It’s a cheap and easy 40 minute bus ride out, and is apparently a favourite with the locals on weekends. However, we could not see why. The town is a little shabby, and the beach, while nice, had uninviting water (a heavy shade of brown, probably from wind and sand etc), and was flanked by many overpriced restaurants and cafes. We strolled up the beachfront, looked at some menus, saw the longest pier in the world (seriously, it’s has highway to reach the end), and decided to head back after only ninety minutes. We can’t necessarily recommend heading here, but if you do, do so with an open mind!
We spent our last day enjoying the pool, a bit of chatter with some other travellers, and just relaxing before heading out to Valladolid. Merida is a great spot in the Yucatan, but be aware you will likely find yourself headed for day-trips to local attractions.