Day 1 - 2/18/2009:
Slept hardly at all as I was worried about waking up at 3 am to get to the airport. Pick up my friend Glenda and we are to the MSP airport by about 4:30 am. It only takes about a 1/2 hour total to check-in and get through security so we are to the gate before 5 am for a 6:15 am flight. Flight leaves on time and we actually arrive in Cancun 15 minutes early at 9:50 am. We arrived at terminal 3 and already I am shocked at how much things have changed. The last time I flew to Cancun was 1989. The lines through immigration and customs are long but they are moving quickly. Glenda mentions that she actually overheard someone complaining that the signs are in English and Spanish. We leave the airport about 11:00 after a little confusion about where to get the ADO bus for downtown Cancun. We get to the bus station downtown and decide to go with the 1:00 ADO GL bus for Merida so that we can have a bite of lunch before we hop on the bus. We grab some sandwiches at Ty-Coz across from the bus station. I had a most delicious hot ham n' cheese sub. The 4 hour bus ride to Merida is uneventful, i.e. kind of boring and the bus isn't very full so we spread out and try to catch some rest. We arrive at the bus station in Merida and catch a cab to the Hotel Julamis.
We arrive at the hotel and I'm already pleased in that it looks exactly the same as in the pictures. The owner was expecting us and helps us with our luggage to our room. He also gives us a map of Centro and some recommendations for restaurants and things to do based on our interests.
This is our room and the patio outside:
After unpacking a bit and a quick peek at the patio area, we decide to explore Merida a bit. There are a lot of people around as it's the 1st night of Carnival. We sit for a while in a park and relax before we head to dinner at Panchos.
I wish I had taken a picture of Panchos as it was one of our favorite dinners. At the back of the restaurant, there is a large open patio area with lots of trees and little white lights. The food was excellent - fresh-made guacamole at the table, arrachera national.
After dinner, we decide to walk around a bit more and stumble upon another square set up with a concert for Carnaval. The park is absolutely packed. Good thing we ate dinner as I have never seen so many food vendors all packed in to one place either and the food didn't look very diet friendly.
We head back to the hotel and confirm with Mel our tour for the next day to Uxmal and Kabah.