My love affair with Mexico runs deep. The more I visit this beautiful country, the more that love grows. In October we had the chance to return to Mexico with a short stop in Tulum followed by a few days in the colonial city of Mérida. This trip was centered around our friends wedding celebration at Hacienda Sac Chich, located 40 mins outside the city, and was the perfect opportunity to visit this buzzy city that’s long been on my bucketlist.
Mérida, the capitol city of the Yucatán, is artsy with European-influenced colonial architecture and a lively food scene. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Mérida was said to house more millionaires than any other place in the world. Today, it has become a popular refuge for the modern day creative class looking for an inexpensive place to call home—and its easy to see why. The architecture around the city still echoes the past’s glitz and glamour. And the real estate is extremely inexpensive—we’re talking what would be million dollar homes back in the states for $200,000. I imagine if you had time to sink into the city and explore all the lesser known bits, you would really uncover that allure. A bit of grit, a bit of free-spirited bohemia, and a bit of enchantment all wrapped into one.
With so many beautiful homes and boutique hotels, choosing a place to stay can be tough. We landed on the modern Casa del Limonero, a two bedroom home with soaring ceilings and a unique layout complete with an outdoor courtyard + pool. Casa del Limonero is located in the Santiago neighborhood, within close proximity to some of the cities best restaurants and parks.
^^Loved this green geometric tile!
After arriving and getting situated in our new house for the weekend, we got ready and headed out to explore the neighborhood. The streets in Santiago are in many ways very unassuming. The exterior of our house in no way indicates what lies behind it’s walls. It was fun to walk around and imagine what other home’s interiors might be hiding behind their simple facades.
Vintage Beetles are everywhere in the city, adding to the charm.
Our first stop was to Coqui Coqui, located just off Santa Lucia square. A quaint one room hotel + spa and perfumaria with an interior like only Coqui Coqui can create. And if you’re looking for an opportunity to indulge in some major TLC, the spa has a whole menu of lavish options to choose from. If you’re short on time for the spa, luckily you can take the scents of Coqui Coqui home with you through the many perfumes, candles, soaps and oil diffusers.
I’ve been so excited to wear this dress somewhere fun and the backdrop of Mérida seemed to fit so perfectly. I love the longer length and the way the whisper thin silk moves with you, showing that extra bit of leg (usually) at just the right moment.
Purse | Sunday Living (similar here)
Sandals | H&M (similar here)
Gold Necklaces | Missoma London
^^After some time wandering around Santiago neighborhood, we made our way to Oliva Enoteca for some ridiculously good Italian food. I loved everything about this restaurant: the intimate size, the elegant but simple decor, and oh yeah…the life changing carbonara.
Friday morning before the wedding we had breakfast at La Chaya Maya, delicious traditional mayan cuisine. After breakfast we wander around a bit and found ourselves in the Olimpo Cultural Center filled with room after room of hand made goods from the region. If it weren’t for a lack of suitcase space, we probably would have come home with way too many souvenirs. And unlike many of the shops and street stands you will find around the city, the goods located in the cultural center are actually made by local artisans, no faux goods shipped in from China here.
^^as fresh as fresh made tortillas get
Friday afternoon we grabbed an Uber (extremely cheap in Mexico – $15 for a 40 min drive outside the city) and made our way to Hacienda Sac Chich to celebrate the bride and groom to be! The wedding could not have been more beautiful and we are so happy to have been a part of our friends big day.
Purse | Cult Gia
Wrap Sandals | Gianvitto Rossi (similar)
World’s Most Beautiful Wedding Dress | Naeem Khan
On our final day in the city, we took a stroll down Paseo de Montejo and grabbed some quick breakfast before hopping a bus with the wedding crew for a trip to Chichen Itza and Ik Kil cenote. How insane are the beautiful big homes? I kept waiting for Great Gatsby to saunter out onto one of these balconies but alas, no such luck.
The drive from Mérida to Chichen-Itza is about 2.5 hours each way. From UNESCO’s World Heritiage site:
“This sacred site was one of the greatest Mayan centres of the Yucatán peninsula. Throughout its nearly 1,000-year history, different peoples have left their mark on the city. The Maya and Toltec vision of the world and the universe is revealed in their stone monuments and artistic works. The fusion of Mayan construction techniques with new elements from central Mexico make Chichen-Itza one of the most important examples of the Mayan-Toltec civilization in Yucatán. Several buildings have survived, such as the Warriors’ Temple, El Castillo and the circular observatory known as El Caracol.”
Ik Kil cenote is very close, only a 30 minute drive from Chichen Itza. Being the closest cenote to the famous ruins gives Ik Kil unfortunately a bit of a theme park vibe—but still beautiful and a completely unique place to take a dip or do some cliff diving. There is a restaurant and bar on site, full locker room with showers and a souvenir shop. On our first trip to Tulum we spent an afternoon at Cenote Nicte-Ha which was a completely different experience. Other than a local father and son duo, we were the only ones there and it was extremely relaxing and peaceful. So depending on the vibe you are looking for, there are lots of different cenotes options in the area.
After a long day, dinner at Apoala was the perfect end to our time in Mérida. Located on the vibrant Santa Lucia square, the scene is lively, the mezcal margaritas are perfectly salted, and the food hits all the best flavor notes. If there’s one thing Mexico does not lack, its delicious food. And Apoala is no exception.
SHOP THE POST
If you are arriving from Tulum or Cancun, the local ADO bus is a very easy and inexpensive options with comfortable seats, air conditioning and relatively quick service.
Uber is extremely affordable and very easy to use so renting a car is only necessary if you plan to take day trips from the city to surrounding areas (which you should if you have time!)
There are lots of great day trips! Chichen Itza, Cenotes, Izmal, Progresso Beach, etc. Set some time aside to see the surrounding area.
There’s no beach breeze to keep the bugs at bay so bring plenty of bug spray.
Where to Stay:
What to Do:
Spend a day at the Coqui Coqui Spa for a relaxing massage and facial.
Visit the Olimpo Cultural Center and browse room and room of hats, pottery, hammocks, linens, clothing and more.
Spend an evening listening to live music and dancing in one of the many parks while enjoying the local liquor of choice: Mezcal.
Take a day trip to Chichen Itza and learn all about the ancient mayan culture.
Visit a nearby Cenote for a cool and refreshing dip.
Photography: Images shot using the Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 R LM OIS Lens and the Fujinon XF35mmF1.4 R Lens, as well as the iPhone 6s.