Subject: Yucatan Peninsula
Hi Laurie,

I just returned from vacation and saw your questions regarding the Yucatan.

My most recent trip (December of 2000) involved leading a group of 12 people so the no reservations style of travel was not an option. However, if it was just my wife and I, we'd do it in a minute. The freedom it allows one is well worth the risk of settling for a less-than-desirable room. We've done this elsewhere in Mexico with no problem.

On the last trip we we're pleased with our accomodations at Casa San Juan in Merida: and the Hotel El Mesón del Marqués in Vallodolid

Dining choices include the hotel restaurant at the Marqués in Vallodolid. In Mérida I highly recommend a visit to Xcanatun for dinner. It's a restored hacienda on the road to Progreso just outside the city.

Also in Mérida, stop by Eladios in the afternoon for appetizers, beers and live music. And, in the evening head to the Parque de Santiago to try some salbutes and panuchos at La Reina Itzapalapa (?; double check on this one, I'm pulling this one from memory without any written notes).

Mérida is a city full of music. You should be able to find some kind of performance in one of the squares at night; try Parque Santa Lucia just north of the zócalo.

In addition to the must see attractions (Chichen-itza, Uxmal, etc.) I highly recommend a visit to Celestun (the flamingoes in flight are sublime; as is the seafood at any of the seaside restaurants), Ek-Balam with its remarkably preserved bas-reliefs and statues just north of Vallodolid, and Punta Laguna, a spider monkey reserve just a few miles from Coba.

Hope these are helpful,

John in San Diego