French influence all over the city!
Courting benches, also called conversation benches or kissing benches (depending on how well the courting is going, I'm assuming?!) can be found all over the city of Mérida. When we went on the free guided tour of Plaza Grande, our guide explained that they were very popular in France back in the 19th century, which is when wealthy Meridians began traveling to Europe and bringing in the latest trends from the old continent. Many upper-class residents spoke French fluently (France was the main importer of Yucatan's sisal), those who could afford it would dress up in the latest French fashion (which, needless to say, was totally not suited to the climate of Mexico!), and today this French influence can still be seen in the architecture of the mansions built on Paseo de Montejo (Mérida's "Champs Élysées") and in the courting benches found in city parks.
Visiting churches in Mérida
With our trip to Rome still fresh in mind, I was a little worried about observing proper church etiquette when visiting churches in Mérida, especially given how a large portion of the population in Mexico defines itself as practicing Catholics. But after walking into a church while a service was going on, I quickly realized by looking at the attendance that wearing shorts and a tank top to go to church didn't seem to be a major cause for concern and, after spotting this sign, I also realized that what people wear probably is the least of their problems!
Leaving Merida to Uxmal, we stopped in a restaurant with two different spaces. No, it was not smokers or non smokers, it was "only men" and common area. It was the only time that I saw that kind of segregation in America, and found it so funny, that... I had a severe distraction. My son Tito ate a salad, and, in the next morning he was over 40º, forcing me to invade a doctor's house at 7AM, after driving almost 20km searching for an inexistent hospital. Two days later he was better, but the "exclusivo caballeros" kept connected to the only situation of "Moctezuma's revenge" in our family.
- Arts and Culture
Coming from Portugal I had no serious problem driving in Mexico. Reasonable roads, not much traffic and acceptable discipline.
The only notice is the condition of many cars, that, I don't know how do they keep moving. Exiting Merida, the noise called our attention for a truck that, while advancing was bouncing from one side to another, and shaking.
As far as we saw he didn't loose any piece.
What a miracle!
- Arts and Culture
When walking along the Historic Centre of Merida quite unexpectedly for me I witnessed a protest demonstration that took place on Monday 31th January. I couldn't understand against what they protested because all the slogans were in Spanish but I was very interested in the process itself.
The protest was very quiet in compare with what I used to see in Moscow. The most of participants were men and had Indian origin and I admired their appearance.
You can watch my 1 min 28 sec Video Mexico Merida protests out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
Mexico is famous with its painters and their murals. I’m fond of Diego Rivera and his murals that I saw in the Royal Palace in Mexico City. Since then I took every chance to watch Mexican murals on our way from Mexico City to Cancun. When in Merida I saw several murals that attracted my attention. One of them I saw in the University of Yucatan-Merida. I saw another in the Palacio Municipal.
A lot of murals I saw in the hall of my hotel Hayatt Regency Merida.
- Arts and Culture
Have you ever seen such benches when people don’t sit together but they sit opposite side from each other? They can't touch each other by their bodies and can see each other and talk only turning their heads.
I haven't seen!
You will see such benches in Merida if you also haven't seen!
You can watch my photo of Merida on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 20° 58' 2.03" N 89° 37' 27.51" W or on my Google Earth Panoramio Palacio Municipal 2.
Electricity meter outside house
Have you ever seen electricity meters outside houses? I haven't seen.
Have you ever seen electricity meters facing pedestrian parts of the streets? I haven't seen! For the first time in my life I saw it in Merida.
Perhaps it's because Russia is a cold country and it is common to have such electricity meters and place them outside houses in warm countries?
In this case an electricity meter outside a house must have been waterproof, but in our case it also must have been freeze proof.
THE MAKING, SELLING & USE OF HAMMOCKS
Merida & the Yucatan makes & sells hammocks like the one that was on the porch at our Mayaland Resort guesthouse. We had fun getting into it - a little tricky when you haven't been in one for a long time. Once in, it is very comfortable. From Chichen Itza to Merida we took the back roads through several small villages and saw the tiny houses that many families live in. Several people during our visit explained that the people in these villages (and many others) sleep in hammocks rather than beds. The hammock in the photo opens fully to wrap around the body. The website link shows them in use.
Tipping in Merida
As is so often the case when visiting another country, it's confusing to try and figure out what types of service should be tipped, and how much. Our guidebooks and talks with other travelers helped us decide on the following:
1) At a restaurant, tips should range between 10 and 15%. At smaller, more local places, 10% is generally appropriate, while more upscale spots expect tipping on the higher end. As is true anywhere, tips should also reflect the quality of service (just about everywhere we went the service was excellent).
2) For your hotel stay, a tip of 10 to 15 pesos per day for the housekeeper is generally appropriate. We always left one large tip in the room on our last day.
3) Taxi drivers are not usually tipped in Merida or other areas in the Yucatan.
4) Tour guides can be tipped at your discretion. If you go to the ruins and accept a local guide on the spot, you should definitely tip, as this is his only source of income.
Slow Paced Lifestyle
For Americans, who are always in a hurry (generalization, I know!), Merida's slow pace can be a bit of an adjustment. People meander slowly down sidewalks and don't seem to notice if you try to get around them. Meals are equally unhurried; you can sit forever without leaving, only paying the bill when you flag your waiter down (similar to many places in Europe). It's a nice pace, but takes some getting used to!
Improved Eating in Merida
I have been visiting Merida on a regular basis for a while now. It used to be on my Havana to Miami route, then the direct flight to merida was discontinued and now it is not that easy to get from Havana to Miami via Merida. There are of course regular bus services from Cancun to Merida, but it involves gettting to the bus station in Cancun and getting to your hotel from the bus station in Merida which would differ by the company.
One thing i have noticed over the years is the quality of food Los almendras had been there and some other smaller establishments but then slowly as the european tourism increased, the number of good quality Mexican as well as Eclectic places has increased. I like to see expertise and culture mix together as I witnessed at a chocolate factory and store near plaza santa ana.
ate well during the stay and none of the meals were a disappointment, there were some fusion cuisine, like mex meditarranean which was a bit of a let down but not too bad. Merida is not affected to any extent the narco war that is everywhere else in Mexico, so it is a very pleasant place to visit and spend some time.
The architecture in Merida has a strong Moorish influence, which you will see throughout the city. One example is the Autonomous University of Yucatan in the Centro Historico. Building of this structure began in 1701 and it used to be a Catholic seminary. Students were very welcoming here and invited us to come on into the main area and look around.
- Historical Travel
The Invasion of the Bicycles
Every Sunday morning, the city of Merida cordons off a 3-mile long route through the Centro Historico and allows the bicycles to take over. Bicycles can be rented in front of the Ayuntamiento (City Hall) in the Plaza Grande, or in front of the Plaza de la Bandera (by the MacDonalds on Paseo Montejo). Bicycling along the route allows you to take in and enjoy the whole Domingo en Merida scene (a confluence of shopping and food that happens every Sunday in the Centro), the shopping and dancing at Parque Santa Lucia and other special things that are different each Sunday along the route. We have seen a table set up for kids to do art, an exercise class (brief) for bicyclers to stretch their muscles, and a lot of happy kids and adults on bikes.
The bike ride is NOT for tourists... all the locals come out to play. Its great fun for the kids who live downtown and usually can't ride their bikes in the city streets. So if you are coming to visit and decide to participate, you'll get a nice taste of local life.
- Study Abroad
- Family Travel
Getting help in Mérida is a bit dicey. Besides talking to other Canadian/American tourists, there are three sources.
1) The Tourist Information booths. We asked at various tourist information booths a few times. There seem to be quite a few of them - two around the Plaza Grande, another near the concert hall (Teatro Peon Contreras). We found that their employees knew more English than we knew Spanish, but not enough to give advice or directions.
2) A second source was the tourist police (Polica Turistica). They were most friendly, spoke English well, but we suspected their advice. I had the suspicion (unsubstantiated) that their advice was not unbiased and that they had friends at the restaurants and shops that they directed us to.
3) The Yucatan Today is a free magazine tourist guide (English and Spanish) that we used a lot. A new version comes out monthly and is available in all the tourist information booths. It really has an amazing amount of information -- covering Mérida, Celestùn, Uxmal, the whole Yucatan peninsula. Perhaps the only negative is that the way it is laid out, we often only found out the information after we had visited the attraction already.
There is also an online version (see website below) which gives tourist suggestions (like good day trips), has maps to view, restaurants, hotels, etc. Good for pre-trip planning.
We also used a couple of guides we borrowed from our library - Fodor's and LP.
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