– Day 2 –
Waking up in Merida
We woke up early after a good sleep at Hotel Hacienda Merida. Outside, it was already very hot but we were in Merida to see the city and the only way to do that is to walk around. So, we went out under the burning sun. The city center is quite small and, very much like in other cities (such as Izamal), everything there is to see is located within a limited radius.
As a result, we had seen everything by 2 p.m, which we hadn’t planned.
Lunch turned into an intense brainstorming session about what to do next. Go to the beach in Progreso? We had read bad reviews and decided not to risk it. Drive to Celestun? It was already too late in the day to go. We ended up spending the rest of the afternoon at the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya.
Below, you’ll find our detailed morning and afternoon itineraries.
In the morning, a walking tour of Merida
The historical Merida
We started the day with a Mexican breakfast at Soberana, on Calle 60 just off Parque de Santa Lucia. It is actually the restaurant of the hotel Casa Lucia. A local pointed us to it and it was a good choice. We had a very decent breakfast combo (which included coffee and juice). The place had wifi and A/C.
Calle 60 is basically the main street of Merida. All your major stops are either on this street or right around the corner. We therefore headed south. First stop, the Parque Santa Lucia and it’s adorable church. A little bit further down, the Jose Peon Contreras Theater. Its architecture is very European and the main staircase is made of marble from Carrara.
Across the street, you’ll find the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan. You can penetrate inside the courtyard and notice that the architecture shows some arabic influences.
Next stop, the beautiful Iglesia de Jesus, built by the jesuits at the beginning of the 17th century. There was a huge party in front of the church that day. So we accessed it by using the side entrance.
When we left, we took a few steps on the little square in front of us, Parque Hidalgo. Funny, that’s also the name of the current mayor of Paris!
Plaza Grande (the main square) was closed for a big Sunday celebration. There was a market, street shows and so many people! Nonetheless, we managed to make way and to reach the Catedral de San Ildefonso. The cathedral is famous for hosting the Cristo de las Ampollas since 1645.
Then we walked all around the square and stopped at Casa Montejo, built in 1549. The entrance is free and the museum gives you an idea of what a typical Mexican mansion looked like. However, the most interesting thing about the house, according to me, is its facade, which clearly distinguishes it from the other buildings on Plaza Grande (Palacio Municipal, Palacio de Gobierno etc…).
Another side of Merida
We thought we would grab a quick bite at the huge local market: the Mercado Municipal Lucas de Galvez. In the end, we didn’t. The market was an interesting thing to see and certainly gives you a better idea of what the daily life of the inhabitants of Merida looks like. A bit too chaotic and dirty for my taste but I am glad we got to see it.
Later, we walked to Parque de Santa Ana and had lunch at Manjar Blanco. We had the dish that mixes all of their specialties. Honestly, it was the best Mexican food I had in Yucatan (besides gourmet cooking). I was really positively surprised. A/C and wifi.
An afternoon at the Grand Museo del Mundo Maya
After lunch, we went back to the hotel to get the car and drove to the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya. The museum is about 20 minutes from the city center and easy to find, as it is located on one of the main roads. Its structure is very modern and so are the premises. It first opened in 2012. Visiting the museum was a good introduction before our trip to Uxmal the next day. However, it is structured in a very odd manner, with explanations often jumping from one subject to another, making it confusing and hard to follow. In fact, when mentioning to our (local) guide in Uxmal that we had not found it amazing, he completely agreed.
Driving back, we took the Paseo Montejo. Apparently, Merida tried to make this large avenue the “Champs Elysées” of Yucatan. Well… what can I say? You’ll see some beautiful mansions and a fun roundabout (below) but that’s basically it. Don’t expect much.
Before dinner, we had a quick drink at La Negrita Cantina. The place was very packed, when others in the neighborhood were completely empty. I guess that says a lot! Very fun place.
For dinner, we had made a reservation at Apoala and really enjoyed it. The food is a bit fancier than anywhere else in Merida and the atmosphere (outside, on the square and with all those lights) was great. Monsieur Chéri tried some Mezcal, the “grand father” of Tequila, after being taught how to properly drink it by a very nice waiter.
– Day 2 –
Merida was a pleasant city to visit and we enjoyed it very much (despite the heat). Walking around Parque Santa Lucia, Calle 60 and Plaza Grande and seeing the beautiful churches and colonial palaces was great. If I had to do it again, I would skip the Museo Maya and do the combo Merida/Izamal in the same day. Completely doable.
My favorite places to eat: Apoala and Manjar Blanco.
– Day 2 –
Time spent driving: About 40 minutes
Hotel: Hotel Hacienda Merida, Calle 62 between 51 and 53 – Merida. Check our review here
Breakfast: Soberana (Parque de Santa Lucia), Calle 60 between 53 and 55.
Lunch: Manjar Blanco (Parque de Santa Ana)
Drinks: La Negrita Cantina – Calle 62 at 49
Dinner: Apoala (Parque de Santa Lucia)
For the global recap of our Mexican adventures, click here!