Subject: Maya Ruins - Part 1
Greetings fellow travelers,

We recently returned from visiting Maya ruins for two weeks. We started in Teotihuacan, flew to Merida and rented a car. Explored the Puuc region sites, the Caribbean, Coba, Chichen Itza and Vallidolid. I thought I would share some information we learned......Our only trip reservations were for the first two nights in Teotihuacan and the flight from Mexico City to Merida. The rest of the time we "winged it". I only speak "Spanglish" vocabulary is good but I sure can't converse in Spanish!

We flew San Francisco to Mexico City. Rather than negotiate the bus system, (which I hear is not too hard) we decided to take a taxi to the ruins at Teotihuacan, (about $50.00 USD). We stayed at the Villa Arquelogia, right at the entrance. The Villa Arquelogia was $88.00 USD per night. The hotel staff were attentive and the rooms clean. The hotel has a restaurant with good but expensive food. We recommend the restaurant right next to the hotel named "Mirador Pirimides". The place was clean, appeared family run and specialized in Yucatan food at reasonable prices.

Teotihuacan was the largest city in mesoamerica with a population of over 200,000 and is located at 6,900 feet. As you enter the extensive site, you are struck by the shear magnitude. The Avenue of the Dead stretches in front of you for 2/12 miles with the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon dominating your view. The Pyramid of the Sun has a base as large as the pyramid of Cheops and is almost 500 feet tall. The city contains more than 4,000 structures, and we easily were able to be wander around for 6 hours. You can hire a guide at any of the entrances, but we preferred to use guide books about the area that we brought. At that altitude, make sure you wear sunblock and wear a hat, the sun is fierce.

After two days, we flew on Aviacsa, (domestic airline) from Mexico City to Merida. Aviacsa was $145 USD compared to around $350 per person on the other two large Mexican carriers. Merida was only a quick couple of flight hours away.

We stayed at the Hotel Caribe, (Calle 59 No.500, Parque Hidalgo) for about $45.00 USD per night. The rooms were air conditioned, (in this heat a necessity!) clean and comfortable. There was a computer located in the lobby with Internet access, (10 pesos and hour). We found other hotels in the area that were clean and air conditioned for as low as $13.00 USD per night, but the Caribe had a comfortable, safe, "colonial" feel.

If you stay in Merida, strongly consider staying in the Historical District. There are large hotels on Paseo Montejo Blvd, but that area is outside the Historical District and not "walker friendly".

The Historical District offers outdoor cafes, large cathedrals, limestone buildings painted in pastel colors with wrought iron railings, and restaurants abound for every taste. One could easily spend hours people watching while sitting on one of the benches in the ZOcalo, (town square). Clowns, vendors and couples strolling hand in hand with the sound of the constant singing of the birds in the trees. Merida also hosts free entertainment each night in the Zocalo area, within walking distance or just a short taxi ride away. The area felt very safe to us as we explored the town into the night. We enjoyed the city so much, we decided to spend 3 nights.

We eventually rented a car, (consider this if in the area. The Fiesta Americana Hotel has Budget, Hertz, Avis, and a couple of local companies.) Our rental car was from Kimbila Auto Rental and was $40.00 USD per day. This was for a manual shift, air conditioned 4 door Nissan Tsura with unlimited mileage.

Part two of our adventure will be driving the Puuc Region, (Ruta Puuc). We visited the ruins of Oxkintok, Uxmal, Kabah, El Sayil and Labna. All of these ruins were from the late Classic period.

More to come....... Frank, California, USA