Valladolid

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that having been there only once; we really aren’t experts on travel to Valladolid. We did try to go there another time several years ago. Our plan then was to fly into Cancun, pick up a rental car therHotel Meson del Marquise Entrye and spend a few days exploring Valladolid and the ruins at nearby Ek’ Balam.

However while at our home airport waiting to board, we saw a news report about a hurricane headed straight for our home in Cozumel so we made a change of plans. But this year we finally made it to Valladolid, a really lovely colonial town located about 100 miles east of Merida and 93 miles west of Cancun.

You can find a detailed history of Valladolid on some other types of websites but the quick version is that it was founded in 1543 by the Spanish and named for the city in Spain where Ferdinand and Isabella were married. The earliest Spanish construction was built on top of Mayan temples; using stones from the ancient city they destroyed.

When we told Mexican friends we were making the trip, the most common response was: “You will love it. Valladolid is the real Mexico” with the unspoken extension: unlike most of the places that tourists visit. And they were right. We did love it.

We started our day taking the 10:00 am ferry from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen and then went in search of a cab to take to the ADO bus station about 8 blocks from the ferry pier. One very clear demonstration of why we ended up loving Valladolid was our experience catching the cab to the bus station. Bear with me…eventually I’ll get to the point on this.

We walked a long block from the end of the ferry pier bypassing the cab drivers offering rides to the Cancun airport and past the Calle 5 pedestrian mall. We reached a surface street where we found a cab unloading passengers. We asked the cab driver how much to the ADO terminal and he quoted $90 pesos or more than triple what the fare should have been. We walked another block in the direction of the bus station and hailed another cab. This guy wanted $7 USD, which at the current exchange rate is very close to $100Valladolid bus station cleaning pesos. As we closed his door; even before we took another step, another cab stopped and offered the ride for $50 pesos. While still about double what it should have been we agreed and were on the way.

That’s the way unscrupulous cab drivers who are jaded by their exposure to too many foreign tourists treat visiting travelers.

The bus ride from Playa to Valladolid takes 2:40 minutes with one stop in central Tulum. If you’re driving yourself, you can do it in roughly 2-hours flat without a stop. The ride takes you by the entrance to the Mayan ruins in both Tulum and Coba.

The (Primera Clase) ADO station in Valladolid is 3-4 blocks from the central plaza known as Parque Francisco Canton, and the location of El Meson del Marques, our hotel for this visit.

One of the things that Mexico does really well is the central plaza and Parque Francisco Canton is no exception.

On one side of the square is the 16th Century Catedral de San Gervasio, one of 7 colonial churValladolid - plaza cathedralches in Valladolid. The Municipal Palace dominates another side. The other two sides include a mix of upscale shopping (like Yalat Arte Mexico), traditional craft markets (Mercado de Artesanías), Hotels And restaurants. The centerpiece of the square is a lovely fountain, which is surrounded by paving stones, abundant seating, trees and other plants loaded with a large bird population.

In addition to the architecture and natural beauty of the city, one of the charming aspects to Valladolid is that a significant percentage of the local ladies still wear hipiles and ternos and the gentlemen still wear guayaberas, the traditionalLady in hipiles and ternos-b attire of Yucatan. Percentage wise, there are probably fewer English speakers among the local population even including hotel staff but the general demenor of the local citizens is so kind and helpful, it really wasn’t a hindrance. We were, after all, in the REAL Mexico, where Spanish is the primary spoken language.

And another charming aspect of Valladolid brings us back to our original point about the unpleasant way way that taxi drivers in Playa del Carmen treat visitors to their city. The first time we stepped into a cab in downtown Valladolid and asked the fare, the driver actually looked a little surprised that we asked and then quoted $20 pesos. We were so prepared to resume our battle with taxistas that we did a double-take and asked again. The highest in-town fare we paid was $25 pesos and that was for a cab called for us by a restaurant after our dinner one evening.

When we asked the hotel front desk to help us organize a taxi for the round trip to visit the ruins at Ek’ Balam, they gave us directions to a stand about 2 blocks away and told us to expect to pay about $250 pesos, which seemed like a very reasonable price to me. But as we walked in that direction, a cab driver standing beside his caValladolid men on Calle 37r offered a ride to Ek Balam. When I asked how much, he said $40 pesos for 1-person / 1-way When I asked about the cost for a 2-person round trip he said $150 pesos, which worked out to be just over $10 for the 34 mile round trip. I thought I had misunderstood him so I wrote out the numbers with my finger on the hood of the cab and he confirmed it. When we said yes, he asked if we minded if his wife and 2 little kids rode along, which was not a problem. He dropped us at the ruins entrance and 2-hours later, came back (still with the family along) for the return.

Now that’s the way to treat a visitor.