During our travels around the Yucatán peninsula, we actually went to some places that weren't just tourist destinations - rather, towns and cities where actual Mexicans live and work. Just a little flavor of everyday Yucatán:
Pronounced "VY-uh-doe-LEED", this tranquil town is not far from the ruins at Chichén Itzá . It's laid-back, cheap, beautiful, and not too far from the tourist sites, yet pleasantly lacking the hordes of tourists. The restaurants here feature delicious local Yucatecan specialties.
The central plaza in Valladolid
The state capital and biggest city on the Yucatán peninsula is Mérida. It's actually a relatively popular tourist destination for those (especially Europeans) looking for more of a "performing arts scene" (ballets, plays, live music) rather than the party scene that dominates places like Cancún and Playa del Carmen.
The best time to be in Mérida is on Saturday night or Sunday, when all the main streets around the central plaza are closed to traffic, restaurants put their chairs out in the streets, stages are set up, and live bands perform all over the place.
Here a rumba band performs while older Mexican couples dance in the street in front of the governor's palace, right in the middle of the city center on a Saturday evening.
On Saturday evenings and Sundays, vendors set up food and souvenir stands in front of the ancient cathedral that dominates the city center.
Overall, Mérida wasn't one of our favorite stops on this trip. During the week Mérida seems like a big, crowded city with too much heavy traffic, too many big buses and trucks roaring down the busy streets, and too much loud music blaring from the thousands of shops and department stores around the city center.
So we hit the road again, headed for Mexico City. Check out the sights on the way.