After a long 30 hours of travel from Melbourne, I arrived in Merida, Mexico. It is a truly Mexican town, that felt very familiar , like some of my favourite places in Spain. Merida has similar qualities of being a laid-back and friendly place, but with added colour, including to its buildings. Every street, corner, person and meal is an explosion of colour. It is a city that brings joy complimented by its relaxed feel. I fear that soon it will become a hugely popular tourist destination, with direct flights from LAX beginning, so I urge you to get here fast.
Our hotel was Casa Del Balam, an traditional bright pinky-orange building with all the right feelings to it. Step inside the lobby and the traditional courtyard is as tranquil as ever. It was simple, but perfectly comfortable and right in the centre of the old town. It is also significantly taller than anything else in Merida, so the views of the nightly fireworks are exceptional.
This city demands my favourite type of travel; no big tourist spots, just endless wandering and exploration of the streets. Research into the city had me thinking that there were big Mayan markets. In contrast, I quickly discovered that they were colourful open buildings owned by one family, filled with traditional Mexican treasures.
Sorry Paris, but this became the city of love when I stumbled across of store bursting at its seams with pom poms. I nearly had a heart attack with how overwhelming ‘me’ it was. As Merida is less touristy, the prices here are accessible for everyone, and I certainly indulged. In fact, I loved the Mexican products so much that I brought a suitcase back to sell directly to readers.
The food scene is interesting in Merida. Upon researching I found it difficult to find traditional Mexican meals. Instead, a lot of Italian. We ate what we liked the look of, and it was actually difficult to find an expensive meal.
However, I did have one dinner stand out, at a restaurant called La Recova in Parque Sta. Lucia square. This square had multiple great looking restaurants. On my next trip, I will certainly eating through there. However, here I had the best mojito I have ever had. Ask for it frozen instead of classic (I do have a soft spot for slurpees). The others enjoyed their daiquiris and pina coladas too. I ordered the fish tacos and this was maybe my favourite meal of this trip. So elegant and flavoursome. The steaks had a good response too.
Another simple meal was had Coyote Maya. At night time the street gets shut to cars, so it is great to dine out on the road and take in the city with the busking and live music. On the other hand, during the day there is a tranquil court yard out the back to enjoy. For a simple Mexican meal I enjoyed the salutes and a serving of guacamole and corn chips for an afternoon snack on other days.
For the best fajitas in town head to La Revo Bar & Fajita House. This is on the boulevard, which is clearly the wealthy part of town. This restaurant is in no way smart, a small hole in the wall, but certainly was delicious. This developed strip has many attractive looking restaurants which I’m sure would be worth the visit for something a little more upmarket.