Hottest Travel Desti-Nation + One Of The Safest Cities In the World

As 2021 winds down and you start looking through your vacation calendar and make plans for next year, are you considering Mexico? Travel and Leisure (T + L) just stated “T+L’s 2022 Destination of the Year: Mexico.”

This past year, as we began taking our first steps back into the world, many of us sought destinations with a relaxed atmosphere, wide-open spaces, and plenty of sunlight. No place filled the bill quite like Mexico — but there’s more to the country than breathtaking beaches and exclusive resorts. Here, we celebrate its regional nuances and less-explored pockets, the beguiling cultures, crafts, and cuisines that make it so deserving of our annual award. Whether it’s your first trip across the border or your 15th, what are you waiting for?

Now what if we overlayed the Destination of the Year with one of the safest cities in the world, what city does that Venn Diagram highlight? Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
 
Merida has been in the tops when looking at the ranks of the safest cities in the Americas for the past three years or so, second only to Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.  But is a safe city worth visiting?  Is it boring, desolate, underpopulated, or what? Well, we recently found out. 

Ease Of Getting To Merida

Merida is in a great location for us to explore with very easy and often direct flights from the southern US, and you can be in Merida faster than you can fly to New York City or Chicago. We took off from Miami on America Airlines, but other flights to Merida pass through Mexico City. The airport is small, inviting, but don’t bring more than one laptop into Mexico as you’ll have to pay a 19% tax on one of them.  What we do to keep you informed! But besides that, customs was easy and quick.  

Merida does not roll off the tongue when discussing the more well-known Mexican beach resort cities like Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Acapulco and that was just fine for us. We stayed at a couple of different hotels/resorts within and around Merida and felt very safe and welcome at all the locations. 
 

Exchange Rate

Merida is a city of about 1 million people, a great size, a compact city and very easy to get around as Uber is cheap and readily available.  We did a 10-minute ride for about $89.99, well that was Pesos which is an easy conversion of Pesos divided by 20. so $90 Pesos is $4.50 American dollars.
 

Surrounding Attractions

One of the places we stayed was out of town so we took a shuttle. The Lodge at Uxmal. was close to two different attractions we were going to see, but it was a great one in itself.

With a great locale like this, with a very inviting pool, and a great buffet dinner and breakfast, The Lodge was a perfect place to spin off to enjoy the Ecos de Uxmal – Experiencia Nocturna.

Ecos de Uxmal is an immersive night walk through the archaeological site of Uxmal, an ancient Maya city of the Classic period, which is currently one of the most important archaeological sites of the Maya culture. In this nocturnal experience, buildings, structures and natural elements hide memories that are revealed as Echoes of the Past: stories about the cosmovision of the Maya and the hidden meanings of their temples that come to life in an atmosphere of intimacy and grandeur.

After a great night at the Ecos de Uxmal, the next day found us at the Chocolate Museum just a 3 minute bus ride from The Lodge. 

There was a great deal to see outside of Merida. We didn’t rent a car but did book some tours instead.  We have not rented a car in Mexico before so we cannot give any advice on that. 

But one aspect of the tours we would recommend is to make sure that they offer a separate English tour if you do not know Spanish. We were on one tour where a third of the tour did not speak Spanish and one tenth did not speak English.  We just got tired of asking for English so we gave up. Payment (or lack there of) at the end of the tour was discussed. 

Amazing Citizens

What we did not realize about the people of Merida was that they were some of the nicest people we ever met in any of our travels.  Could this be why the city was so safe?  We looked up online a free walking tour of Merida, made a reservation for two for the English version of the tour, and took an Uber to the almost center of the city. The tour was about 2 hours and we only went about 4 city blocks but it was fun, informative, and we saw the heart of the city.  

After the fun little city tour, we hung around city center and people just kept talking to us. I was hanging out with a Canadian and the Merida ears heard my American English and the Canadian accent and multiple conversations arose. The locals were all excited to practice their English with us, had relatives in Canada or the United States, or just wanted to be helpful. I though they were all “callers”, you know the people that try to get you to go to this store, restaurant, attraction by stopping you on the street, but they were not. We had to pinch ourselves as everyone was just so nice! Literally, the nicest people. 

Cuisine

And then there was the food. You of course need to try the local food and cuisine. And when I mean local, I mean the traditional Mayan food as there are still Mayan speaking people in Mexico, about 1 million and about a total of 5 million in Central America.  With that, they still maintain the knowledge of traditional food.  

But there are other offerings that must be enjoyed, too. We ate at many places but the two that are memorable and I would want to visit when I return are Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca – MUGY and Picheta, both near the heart of the city.

Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca – MUGY
Picheta

Gay?

But how gay can we get in Merida?  We did go out to a little hot spot, Catrin restaurant and had a great time being in a little gay hot spot. Food, drinks, and the visuals will bring me back there again. 

We did hear, like in the US and other nations, some of the bars like Blue Queen did not make it through the pandemic. But for more of a gay adventure next time we return, we may look up one of the hotties we met there. Ricardo Contreras, Mr Gay World Yucatan has started his own little company www.meridagaytours.com. We cannot attest to how great his tours are, but we would not mind spending more time with him.

Return Visit?

Why go to Merida? Once again, it’s safe, it’s cultural, the people are phenomenally polite, and the exchange rate is very favorable. The flights from America are easy, Mexican customs is simple, the food is delightful, and again, the people are amazing.

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