Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Campeche Part Two

Numerous churches of different styles dot the city

This reminded me of California missions
Our trip to Campeche and lovely visit with Tony and Hilary ended almost two weeks ago. We're still in Isla Mujeres but planning to check out of Mexico tomorrow, fuel up and after one night at anchor here, sail south to Belize on Thursday. Chris Parker, our weather guru, has promised pretty good conditions for the trip. Hopefully easier than the one coming up here.
We plan to spend one night at Cozmel, then an overnight to the north end of Chinchorro Bank, a Mexican atoll. One or two nights there and we have a long day sail to San Pedro on Ambergris Cay, Belize. It's a tricky entrance through the reefs,  so timing our arrival in good light is important. We can check into Belize there and hopefully spend a couple of days before continuing south to Placencia. Scott's brother Brent and our sister-in-law Wilma are flying there on April 6. We're really looking forward to their visit.
So wish us luck for our trip and I'll send you a post when we arrive in Belize.
Love the Shadows of the Coconut Trees

No, the right arm is down...

Casa Viejo - great place to sit, eat and watch the Plaza

Shoe shine anyone? There are always a number of them in the parks

Outside this section of the City Wall is a park now but
originally the sea came right up to the walls

Guard posts on the corners look over city streets now

View of the art strewn street from the wall
Casa # 6 reflections. This beautifully restored house
on the main plaza brings the Colonial times to the present
Casa #6 The courtyard
Bedroom -it looks just like it was lived in
The elegant Salon. That's an original costume on a maniquin
in the rear
The bright welcoming kitchen
Walkway up to the city wall
We bought belts from this woman just to spend time with
her adorable baby

I love this angel watching over these gentlemen
There was an excellent dance and music show one evening
A Mexican version of a Barbershop Quartet
The dancers were terrific and looked like they were having a great time.
Our last shot before saying good-bye
Last night dinner at Don Lorenzo with Tony and Hilly

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Campeche - Part One

Some of the beautiful tiles through the Hotel
 Hotel Castelmar in Cambeche, a lovely spot and our home
for 2 nights

First let me say that we really loved Campeche and highly recommend a visit there. It's a beautiful small city full of history and art. Founded by the Spanish in 1540 on the location of the Mayan city of Ah-Kin-Pech it was a rich and important port during the Colonial era when large plantations growing henequen from the agave plant florished. It declined after the Mexican Independance but revived when petroleum was discovered offshore in the 1970's. Money from this fueled a refurbishment of the facades, monuments, walls and forts during the 1980's. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.
Beet Carpaccio at Marganzo Restaurant, our favorite
restaurant. We were there twice and Hilly & Tony 3 times
In the early years it was constantly attacked by Pirates and numerous forts and heavily fortified walls were built to surround the town. Only small portions of the walls survive but almost all the forts. Most of these forts have been turned into museums or in one case a Botanical garden.
We drove from Merida in the morning and were delighted when the Hotel Castelmar checked us in early. It's a beautiful place right in the center of the historic area. They recommended we eat at Marganzo nearby and it was terrific. We made a reservation to eat there again that very night. The food was mostly Mayan specialities which we enjoy trying. I'm planning a blog post in the next week or so entirely on Mayan food and am trying to make some of it at home.
This is a city that you can see with your feet and we did. Hilly and Tony headed west along the coast to a historic fort with a museum and Scott and I went east down to the Nature Reserve which stretches for at least 70 miles along the coast. We both enjoyed seeing the fisherman and their boats. Scott and I walked around the protected lagoon where many of them are kept and they sell their fish. The baby sharks used in the regions signiture dish, Pan de Cazon, were for sale here. I had it for lunch my first day - layers of baby shark in tortillas covered in tomato sauce.
The main square is really pretty with the 16th Century Cathedral at one end, some of the city walls and mulit pastel colored arcaded homes and municipal building surrounding it. In the center was a cafe and tourist information booth. One day we had lunch up on the second story overlooking the Plaza at Casa Viejo de los Arcos. I had delicious fish covered with a Pepian sauce made with roasted squash seeds. Scott and I shared a dish of sikil pak, a mayan hummus, with chips as an appetizer. Yum.
Tony, Hilary and Scott at Marganzo
Unlike Merida, which outside the Central area is very city like, commercial and run down looking, Campeche is well kept, freshly painted and swept clean through the downtown area and into some of the older suburban areas. The town must subsidize somehow the cost of keeping up residential and commercial facades on an ongoing basis.
There was a lot of art around town. Bronze statues that appear to be permenant show residents going about their normal life in Colonial times. It makes for great interactive photos. There was also a major show by a Mexican artist, Jorge Marin. More than 20 life
Several of the streets were closed to cars and filled with art

sized sculptures were displayed beautifully around the main squares and in the pedestrian only street. They were of male athletes performing with simple bird masks. A giant pair of wings was set up in front of the sea gate where people could pose for photos. Of course we did.
More about the rest of our stay in my next posting.
One of the many charming sculptures around town
depicting every day life years ago

You knew Heather was an Angel, right?

16th Century Cathedral in the main square

Surrounded by multi colored houses and shops

The perfect place for people watching and just resting

Mansion Caravel, now a municipal office, once one of the
largest mansions in the Colonial era here

Great wrought iron work trims many of the buildings

Lots of places to have a coffee or drink

No excuses for not finding the backpack you like.
This  "futball" game looked WELL used
Another pedestrian street filled with art
Or cafes
Heather gets friendly with a Don
Baby sharks are a local specialty dish
A number of the forts have been made into museums,
The outside of the fort with guard house
Most of the buildings looked freshly painted.
Even the simple homes looked pristine - someone's working
long hours and using a lot of paint 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Chichen Itza and Merida

Mayaland Hotel at Chichen Itza

With peacocks strutting around
Scott and I generally stay in very modest (cheap) hotels so we were very happily surprised by Mayaland Hotel at Chichen Itza. We've visited the temple complexes twice before so enjoyed lazing around the lovely pool and walking the grounds. Tony and Hilary had a great time touring the temples with a guide for the morning.
The evening buffet was pretty good (it is possible to order ala carte but the pricing makes it not a good value) but the breakfast buffet just average. Still we loved sitting out on the terrace overlooking the grounds. We'd recommend this hotel and in fact do recommend it - we're now Senior Contributors on Trip Advisor!
It was about a 1.5 to 2 hour trip driving into Merida. We stayed for the third time at Hotel Doloras Alba not far from the main square. It's a attractive budget hotel with a pool and pretty courtyards. The breakfast here is included in the price and pretty basic.
Merida is a big bustling city with lots of beautiful colonial architecture - see previous postings. This time we stayed two nights over the weekend. On Saturday night and Sunday they close several of the main streets for walking and bicycling.
This beautiful carriage must have been used back in the
1930's when this resort first opened

Charming Mayan style bungalows are set among the
beautiful grounds
It's so much fun people watching and it seems everyone is out enjoying themselves. Cafes set up tables on the street and there are bicycle rental shops with a wild assortment of inventory.  Booths with vendors selling everything are set up around the square and in the streets. In front of the Palace there were music and dance performances. Unfortunately all with loud speakers at full blast. None of us could stand the volume although Tony and Hilary tried valiantly for awhile.
This stained glass window was in the poolside bathroom!
People watching was fun while eating out in the Squares, our favorite spot was the Main St. Restaurant right near the Plaza. Our first evening we "attended" a formal wedding at the nearby Church. It was fascinating watching the bridal party assemble and then the bride arrive.
On Sunday we walked the famous  Paseo de Montejo along with many others. This "Champs Elysee" of Merida is lined with old mansions and more modern lovely homes.
It was a great visit, but we had a new city to explore, Campeche - more in my next blog.
With matching tiles all around

We spent the morning lazing around the pool - heaven!

The church was decorate with masses of white
Everyone of the bridesmaids was lovely
Everyone including the guests were formal
Two of the Dancers
The main staircase of the Opera House
Bows anyone? Lots of choices
Balloons, Balloons and more Balloons
A bicycle built for 4
Charming dolls in traditional dress
The lighthouse structure seems a little odd
But maybe it's a "tower" like this one on a more modest level
Children's activities were set up
This mansion could be in Frnace.