Merida is the capital, and largest city in the state of Yucatan, and was founded in 1542 on the ruins of the Mayan city T’Ho. I have been wanting to go, first after seeing it featured on HGTV in House Hunters International, second after reading about its ruins and haciendas in the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die and third after seeing it featured in the New York Times and other publications. It is becoming a destination for foodies and for the cultural traveler who wants to avoid Cancun. Just don’t go in the summer since it can be horribly hot and humid.
I loved seeing the grand colonial buildings, squares, churches and colorful houses, experiencing the markets, visiting museums, trying the local dishes in some wonderful restaurants, hearing the local Trova music first-hand, climbing Mayan ruins and seeing the old haciendas nearby. There are some lovely boutique hotels as well. It is a busy, bustling city with music everywhere at night. I was there at the beginning of the annual Festival de Cuidad which marks the birthday of the city and lasts most of January. In addition to the regular cultural activities there are more free concerts and events with dancing in the streets. Because of this the town was totally painted and spruced up.