My body slid from left to right, from one side of the seat to the other, as the bus driver took the seemingly endless hair-pin turns at full speed. Trying to sleep without falling was the ultimate goal of our journey from Palenque to Merida and we didn’t succeed.

Tired but excited we got off the bus in Merida, it was early in the morning and we decided to go for a stroll while looking for a cheap way to get to the airport where we had a rental car pickup already arranged.

Mérida is the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Yucatán as well as the largest city of the Yucatán Peninsula. It is located in the northwest part of the state not very far from the Gulf of Mexico coast. It is the largest of the four cities of the world that share the name Mérida, the other three being in Spain, Venezuela, and the Philippines.

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The city, like much of the state, has heavy Mayan, Spanish, French and British influences. Mérida has the highest percentage of indigenous persons of any large city in Mexico with almost two-thirds of all inhabitants being of the Maya descendance.

Since the Spanish conquest, Mérida has been the cultural capital of the entire Yucatán Peninsula. It is a town steeped in colonial history, with narrow streets, broad central plazas and the region’s best museums. It’s also a perfect place from which to kick off your adventure into the world-famous Yucatán state. There are cheap eats, good hostels and hotels, thriving markets and events happening just about every night somewhere in the downtown area.

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Cathedral of Merida

Long popular with European travelers looking to go beyond the hubbub of Quintana Roo’s resort towns, Mérida is not an ‘undiscovered Mexican gem’ like some of the tourist brochures claim. Simply put, it’s a tourist town, but a tourist town too big to feel like a tourist trap.

Walking downtown we witnessed the frenzy of activity of the people going to work. It felt very alive, chaotic even, hell it felt like being in Milan.

I didn’t like the city much as it looked dirty and hectic to me but I have a feeling that with a little bit more time in hand and by exploring further, maybe entering some of the museums, this city can grow on you.

After asking around quite a lot we found a mini-bus going to the airport and once there we picked up the car. We were off for our great road trip in Yucatán and Quintana Roo!!