Just a shout out for the magazine Yucatan Today. We used this free jewel for its great maps and info about restaurants, tourist sites, etc! Having a car really gave us the freedom to do and see as we pleased.
• Day 5 Saturday: A quick 2-hour drive on the Cuota lands you in the bustling city of Merida. With excellent driving directions from the website www.luzenyucatan.com we parked next door and entered the lovely oasis that is Luz. Tom, one of the owners, was a former successful tour operator and it shows with his commitment to customer service and his engaging personality. We loved Luz for all the great amenities – a 5 gallon bottle of filtered water with pump, pool, kitchen, AC, wifi and nice rooms all just blocks from the main square. We arrived on Saturday and Merida was in full swing. We walked over to noche Mexicana along Paseo de Montejo then headed back downtown for dinner at Chaya Maya. Dinner was ok – the staff were great. After dinner we headed down to the main square to check out all the happenings that make up Saturday night.
• Day 6 Sunday: Up early for breakfast with the locals at Café Habana. Great Cuban coffee and breakfast. Tip: most restaurants have free wifi you just need to ask for the “clave” or password. Then off to the Anthropology Museum on Paseo Montejo. We were lucky to visit on Sunday as the museum was closing the next day for 2 weeks to move pieces over to the new Museo Maya. Although we weren’t looking for a guide, we struck up a conversation with a guide named Antonio who gave us a wonderful tour of the museum. Antonio lives in Muna and is friends with the owners of The Flycatcher Inn where we would stay when we visited Uxmal. It’s a small world in the Yucatan as was evidenced several times throughout our trip. We also visited the small exhibit on the 2nd floor of the museum about the original owners of the incredible mansion that houses the museum. Met a great couple from Monterey Mexico who turned us on to a couple of cenotes in Cacao. Back downtown for lunch at Pops American café. Sunday night found us out in the “burbs” at the Galleria mall (same as in Houston ice rink and all) watching The Bourne Legacy in the comfort of a lazy-boy recliner in the VIP theatre. Call us crazy but we go to movies all over the world when we travel and love it! Late dinner at Hennesy’s Irish Pub on Paseo Montejo. Great pasta, nice owner and staff.
• Day 7 Monday: Breakfast across the street at Café Club – great food and very nice owner. Dropped laundry at Lavanderia Fe just up the block and off to the main square for the free walking tour given by the tourist office. The square was hopping with preparations for Independence Day. Don’t miss the gorgeous murals by Pacheco in the pale green offices of the Governor. Nice tour. Got relief from the heat in the beautifully restored Casa de Montejo. Be sure to stop by the gift store – wonderful selection of crafts from all over Mexico. Yummy lunch at Café Katrina then a visit to the modern art museum. In cenote withdrawal, we jumped in the car and headed out to cenote San Ignacio. Of all of the cenotes this was our least favorite. While it is refreshing, and luckily we were the only ones swimming, it’s too small and too closed in for our tastes. However, the setting is lovely and the young boy who sold us our pricey tickets (70 pesos each) was charming. And, we realize this attraction supplies the town with needed revenue. Dinner at the lovely Amaro restaurant. Wonderful guitarist and good Italian food.
• Day 8 Tuesday: With a final breakfast at Club Social we headed out of Merida towards Uxmal. First stop, the incredibly haunting Hacienda Yaxcopoil. We started exploring not realizing we’d bypassed the main entrance. Got a great private tour in Spanish from the employee/guide who found us wondering around since the only other group had their own guide. Great place. Fabulous photo ops.
Back on the road to Peba to Cenote Sambula suggested by the fabulous William Lawson. A private dip for 2 in a gorgeous cenote. Thanks Bill! Next stop the restored Hacienda Ochil for a “private” lunch. A small group had just left which meant we had the place to ourselves. We asked our waiter Carlos about the cenote Kankirixche. We had come prepared with a hand drawn map from Tom at Luz en Yucatan but Carlos was still worried we wouldn’t find it so he volunteered to accompany us. Good thing since we probably would have missed it on the first try. Wow! What a beauty – one of our favorites of the 10 that we visited. Dropped off Carlos in his town of Abala and on the road to Cacao for more cenotes. Rolled by Uxmal and then on to Santa Elena and The Fly Catcher Inn. (See Trip Report #3)