Travel - Mexico
I'm going to try and keep this blog more flowing as opposed to an information dump on one particular day like the last few.
So I wanted to go to the north side of the Yucatan area first and then make my way towards Mexico City. Unfortunately the best way for me to do that involved me getting a bus from Guatemala through Belize and onwards to Chetumal in Mexico. And since I've only about two and a half weeks in Mexico I decided to get another bus straight to Tulum. All of this basically led to a long day where I left at 7am and arrived in Tulum at about 1am along with paying $17.50 to go through Belize. But it had to be done, getting a bus to Palenque to the west and then making my way to Yucatan area to the North East would have taken ages.
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You going to hit up Chicxulub? It probably won't be as cool as I'm making it out to be in my head. (Keep in mind I've had this image in my head since I was 6 years old dreaming of dinosaurs on the regular).
@naltmank I won't unfortunately. I'm actually in Merida now which is maybe 30 minutes away from Chicxulub but I just don't have the time. I'll be getting a bus later today to San Cristobal.
That all said.. I am within the crater technically :)
I arrived around 1:30am with no accommodation so my first task was wandering around the town to find somewhere. In the end I stayed in a place called Sheck hostel which turned out to be pretty decent. So if you're struggling, I'd recommend it.
The easiest way to describe Tulum is a less touristy Cancun I imagine. From here you can still make your way up north towards Playa del Carmen and Cancun itself relatively easy. It has some beautiful beaches nearby, you'll probably need a bike as there is a long stretch of beaches and even if you just plant yourself in one area, it's still 4km from the town. If you're a beach person though you'll love it as you'll find plenty of white sandy beaches along the coast. Now it is less touristy than Cancun however you'll still find plenty of people here. I just went for a walk one day around the area and liked it for what it was but it's still a bit too crowded for me. For me the main things I did in Tulum was dive in cenotes and eat!
So the Yucatan area has 1000s of centoes to choose from. In Tulum, probably the most famous one is Dos Ojos where you can snorkel and dive. I decided to dive here and a place called The Pit which was a deep dive and only for divers.I did the dives for $130 with Easy Change as they had a discount with the hostel. The dives themselves were really good. In the pit, you could see the sunshine through certain areas giving it a really cool effect, when you got halfway down and up you'd get to a part where I believe salt and sea water collide and it causes your vision to be extremely blurry which is pretty interesting to dive in. At the very bottom there is full tree which is honestly super cool to see. Of course you also see lots of different rock formations and collapsed areas too so I really liked that dive. The Dos Ojos dive was great too but I'd say you probably spend too much time there. You've a lot more time since the maximum depth you go at is about 10 metres so you've a lot more oxygen in the tank. It's very cool going through caverns and getting away from the busy snorkel areas. It always adds that extra bit of excitement (maybe anxiety is the right word) when you're in a closed off area and can't see the surface. Whether you're a diver or just want to snorkel, it's worth at least checking out a few cenotes while you're in the area.
And finally, Mexican food! So far I've been stuffing my face with enchiladas and tacos and it's been fantastic. Food here is just great so far if you like a bit more spice. Enchiladas are totally different from the way I make them back home but they're really good. I went for the basics Mexican food at first just to get into the swing of things. As I go on, I'll definitely be interested to try out more local food I haven't heard of. Which does remind me, tortas are basically their sandwiches and getting one of those and having some spicy sauce with you is great!
Next thing I did was make my way to Valladolid to check out the Chichen Itza ruins in particular.
I don't have much to say on Valladolid itself. I arrived in the evening, had some time there the following that after the ruins and left the morning after that to Merida. I'm not sure what you'd call it really. The central area itself really just feels like where the church and park is, after that it's just random shops and houses in places so I imagine there is a more commercial area however I didn't really see a need to venture further out. It is nice to sit in the square and it's the first place that I noticed these seats where they are side by side but facing opposite directions. I thought they were pretty cool and I regret that I don't have any pictures of them. I have seen them in other places in Mexico though so I should still get one in.
So instead of booking a tour, I decided to go solo with exploring the ruins. Very close to the bus station, (leaving the bus station, turn left and it's a few minutes on the same side of the road) you will find a colectivo taxi yard. This is where people will turn up to share a taxi to the ruins and it only costs 40 peso ($2). Sure it won't leave until it's at least partially full but that only took about 15 minutes for the time I was there (maybe 7 20am) and you'll still easily beat the vast majority of tour operators and even merchants setting up stalls out there. The drive shouldn't take any longer than 45 minutes. Then the entrance fee is 242 peso so not only do you get there before most people arrive, you'll also save a nice bit of money too.
So the ruins themselves are very well kept, you're not able to go up any of them and the majority of the area is pretty open and it's not that big either so it's a pretty different vibe to Tikal which I'd been to the previous week. I would say I enjoyed my time here, I liked walking around but even with me getting there early, there were still always people in sight which kind of takes away from the impressive ruins. Also it doesn't have a huge amount of wildlife, you're sure to spot a few iguanas but that might be it. It's tough as I'm obviously comparing it with Tikal since I really enjoyed that but it was so recent so I can't get it out of my mind. I only spent about 2-3 hours at the ruins themselves and that was absolutely loads of time even. If you haven't been to any ruins I'd still absolutely recommend it and to come as early as possible but personally I wasn't blown away. The ruins were very cool but it was just the vibe that threw me off a bit.
Getting the majority of my photos up now.
@tokeeffe9 those are really nice photos! i'm very proud to call it my country "Mi Mexico Lindo y Querido" (My dear and lovely Mexico)
@holy_angel_mx What part of Mexico are you from?
As standard now, I wish I'd a bit more time to stay in places a day or so longer and check out other places.
@tokeeffe9 i'm from Mexico City, and yes, you cannot see a place like that in a day or two, there's so much to check in those places.
@holy_angel_mx Awesome. Just a quick question as one thing I do want to do is see Lucha Libra and I'm assuming Mexico City is my best bet for that.
Do you know anything that might help?
@tokeeffe9 yea the best way to check Lucha Libre is in the downtown of Mexico City, here's the link for the most famous place to watch the "fights". "Arena Coliseo"
@holy_angel_mx Cool, looks like I wouldn't be able to go to Arena Coliseo but possibly Arena Mexico
Firstly the hostel, Zukal Casa, I stayed in here was excellent. It was only 160 peso with a really good dorm room, pool, awesome breakfast and great wifi. The host was really helpful too, she gave me a bunch of tips on places to go and things to eat. I started my day watching Liverpool beat Arsenal on the wifi :)
So I spent a lot of my time going between Santiago Park (not really a park but that's what the person called it) and the Plaza de la Independcia. Santiago is just a great place to pick up a cheap and tasty meal. I was recommended a few things and I did my best to have them all. The first being Cochinita pibil which is basically slow roast pork and I got this a bunch of times in tortas, tacos and just a common meal, really good! One night I got Sopa de Lima which is specific type of lime to Yucatan. It's not something I'd have everyday but it was interesting. It is very much lime but it's doesn't seem as strong and it usually has some pork and tortilla inside it too. The other interesting thing I had was a desert called Marquesita. This is basically a rolled wafer and it's filled with cheese however you can get loads of additional toppings with it and Nutella was recommended to me. This might not sound the most appealing but it was actually really tasty, so much so that I got one (two on one occasion) every night.
So as I said the other place I kept going back and forth between was Plaza de la Independcia. This is basically the cultural hub of Merida. Every night, after around 8pm I think, they will close off the streets around the square and there will be some event on. On the first night, they were playing music and had like a light/mural show in front of the church so the church was covered with various images. The following night was traditional music where locals and tourists, young and old, would grab a partner and dance in the middle of the street. It's pretty amazing to just see this kind of tradition stay intact and people enjoying themselves. So those events are super cool there. If you are around during the day you can still check out the government building, Palacio de Gobierno, which is free to go into and has a lot of impressive art showcasing the history of the Mayans.
Just to add to the cool traditions in Merida, on Sunday Paseo de Montejo and Calle 60 are closed to motor vehicles between 8am-12pm for cyclists to take over! I believe it's called Bircuita. It's a really family friendly event and as you cycle north on the Paseo de Montejo, you'll encounter lots of mini events on the sidewalks like puppet displays, traditional music, etc. I took this opportunity to cycle all the way to Gran Museo del Mundo Maya and it was absolutely worth it. I didn't read up anything on the museum, I just assumed it went thought Mayan history and I was totally fine with that. But it turned out they started way way back with the dinosaurs so initially you watch a short movie in this dome type area regarding on that period and the meteor hitting and then you go through the museum itself which starts off with some very cool fossils and replicas, cave patterns... just everything really and it goes through the past and present for the mayans and their traditions. I'd absolutely recommend it. Also since I was in the area of a shopping mall and hadn't been to a cinema in about 8 months. I decided now was the time and for only $2.50, I went to see Logan and throughly enjoyed it. Still can't believe how cheap cinema tickets are here!
If you have a car while you're here, I've heard there are some lovely beaches in the area and of course lots of cenotes but I didn't have a car and those things weren't really a top priority for me. I had to prepare myself for a long night bus all the way to San Cristobal in Chiapas. I'd recommend getting your ticket early for that as I arrived hoping I'd just get on the earlier bus (8:40pm) and that was booked out so I had to wait until 11:30pm.
San Cristobal de las Casas
I was absolutely exhausted after the bus so I made my way straight to the hostel I researched on called Mirador Hostel. Nice hostel, really nice and cosy beds. Wifi not so great and while the breakfasts were good I think I may have gotten food poisoning from the last one I had. Honestly, I think I was just a little unlucky and still liked the place overall just because of how nice the beds were.
So the unfortunate thing with the shorter timescale was that I skipped Palenque and it didn't really make much sense to go backwards to check out Agua Azul and then come back. So I spent my time mostly exploring around the city itself. I basically made my way through the market area where you can seemingly find anything and all the way across the town to the botanical gardens. It's only 50 peso to enter and there is a nice trail up and around the hill. It was particularly nice due to the time of year which gave off a nice autumn vibe to the area. It's not an overly difficult trek either but it could be slippy in certain conditions and maybe takes 90 minutes or so.
On the way back I found this awesome random restaurant. I just looked in and it had a really buzzing crowd and I totally saw why. You got a nice big meal and drink for a really good price. I got a mix of enchiladas and steak and it was really good. I really wish I remembered the name of the place now.
Something I probably have mentioned before but I kind of want to reiterate is just how nice it is to wander around these cities/towns. It just feels like they are bursting with colour and seeing the old Volkswagen beetles contrast with the brightly coloured houses and shops is awesome. Even seeing the likes of a McDonalds or Subway is interesting. I don't know about the interior but the exterior still fits with the rest of the buildings in the area which I think is really cool.
So I the next day I'd plenty of time before my nightbus to Zipolite so I decided to take a tour to Sumidero Canyon. It cost me 250 peso which just includes the transport over and the speedboat around the canyon. Probably best bringing at least a snack, otherwise you'll be buying whatever over there or waiting until you're dropped off well afterwards in a square (honestly not sure where this was) to go eat. Anyway the tour itself was really good. A lot of the landscape is seriously impressive and going through different sections of the canyon is pretty majestic at times, with just the way the sun shines and the formation of the canyon in that section. You're also pretty likely to spot a few crocodiles and birdlife so there's that too!
Unfortunately due to the aforementioned food poisoning, these are a lot shorter than I'd like.
Seems like a really nice chill (hippy) area to just relax for a few days. If you've an issue with nudity though, you might feel a bit uncomfortable.
The food capital of Mexico and I couldn't try any of it unfortunately. Only things I did really was walk around so I really can't advise on anything. It seemed like a nice place, I just wasn't right unfortunately.
i hope you are feeling better by now, be careful with the sea food you're eating, some places doesn't have the proper measures to keep fresh food.
i think you should visit Huatulco, it's an awesome city, with wonderful views, lovely people, better than Zipolite.
Oaxaca it's just beautiful, it's a bummer that you couldn't try the amazing food that they make over there, it was the first cuisine to receive UNESCO culinary heritage status.
@holy_angel_mx Thanks, I am feeling better now alright, not 100% but a lot better.
Unfortunately I'll just have to come back. I knew I didn't have enough time anyway and now I'll just have to make time for Mexico again. :)
Mexico City is huge. Realistically you could easily spend a week and still have barely scratched the surface. There are a load of really interesting points in and just outside of the city and I only had two full days really to explore.
The great thing about the place is it's super easy and cheap to get around. Find your nearest metro station, get about ten tickets for 50 peso and that should do you for a few days and even if it isn't, 5 peso a ticket is insanely good value. I'm pretty used to metro stations now between several places and if you're comfortable with others, Mexico City should be no different even if you don't speak the language.
So if you're low on time like me, I've two recommendations. Go to Bosque de Chapultepec & Centro. Chapultepec is a huge park in the city that has a load of interesting points. It's a beautiful area to walk around and take in several historic landmarks. My favourite thing outside of the park was the Museo Nacional de Antropología which is just a huge, super cool museum that you can genuinely spend the whole day in by itself. Even the entrance once you give the ticket is so impressive, this huge pillar surrounding by water falling from the ceiling. Really nice. So that's how I did spend my first day.
My second day was spent in the Centro region which is the historic centre of Mexico City. Again it's just really awesome to walk around here. Start off at Bellas Artes and from there I essentially made my way to the National Palace. You'll just constantly be bumping into lots of historical and beautiful areas. I found myself walking and just soaking it all up. It was a Saturday too so it was extremely busy in parts.
The other awesome thing for me was that I was able to go to Lucha Libre in the Arena Coliseo which is in the same area. Tickets range from 50-200 peso. I bought ones for 100 peso which put be at the back of the seats around the ring. You're really close to the ring, the only issue is the balcony coming down in front of you so if a luchador gets on the ring, you'll probably only see the bottom half of them which didn't really bother me. The only other thing to know is not to bother bringing a camera, they'll take it off you and give it back after. Anyway as someone who couldn't care less about wrestling, it was a blast. Just pure cheesy fun really. Lots of pretty impressive moves, silly subplots and hilarious costumes. It was absolutely worth doing!
That was all I'd time for. Realistically I could of headed outside to the Pyramid of the Sun but I still wasn't 100% and personally just wasn't super interested in it. Hopefully if I come back and feel much better, I'll be a lot more rejuvenated to do that.
And this also closes my short time in Mexico. I really loved it, it was finally nice to get somewhere where I was actually looking forward to the food on a daily basis and getting to just explore around the different towns. I'd love to have been able to do more activities and see more things but it really will have to be something for if I do manage to come back.
And all my photos are up now too.
Off for a jolly time in Los Angeles next!
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The Chapultepec park and the Anthropology museum sound interesting, what did you enjoy the most from these?
@Ironside The Park is just really nice to stroll around. It's huge and feels quite diverse.
Regarding the museum, it really depends how interested you are in the prehistoric times (mostly about the meteor) and primarily the mayan's. You honestly could spend the whole day there. The amount of information, props and ruins they have is pretty amazing. It's only 70 peso too so it's absolutely worth checking out.