Friday, June 20, 2014

Tour to Merida, Mexico Jan 24-Feb 1, 2015

DATES: January 24 – February 1, 2015 (9 days)

FLIGHTS: Book your own, flying into Mérida or into Cancun, then taking a four-hour 
luxury bus ride to Mérida (flight NOT included in price below)

HOTEL: Hotel Los Aluxes
Calle 0 444 por 49
Centro, 97000 Mérida, Yucatan
4.6 out of 5 stars – Trip Advisor
Rooms are doubles with breakfast, single supplements available for an additional $300. 
Restaurant, bar, coffee shop, swimming pool, 110 V electricity, boutique, Internet, 
cybercafé, laundry, dry cleaning, medical services, and other amenities.

TOURS: All tours are conducted by English-speaking guides

INCLUDED: Entrance fees for all attractions listed below. All breakfasts (except for Day 1), five lunches and one dinner are included. You will be responsible for all other meals.

DEPOSIT: Non-refundable deposit of $400 due October 1, 2014. Balance due December 1st.  
(All travelers would be wise to investigate trip insurance, read the policy carefully, and purchase it.)

TOTAL COST FOR LAND PACKAGE: $1550, not including your airfare.


Sarasota Sister Cities invites you to join us on a tour to its newest sister city, Mérida (twinned in 2010). One of the oldest cities in the Americas, it is at the northern tip of the Yucatan peninsula. Mérida is known as “the white city” due to its buildings of white stone and paint, and is known for its colonial architecture. The city is undergoing a renaissance as colonial homes are being restored to their glory.

Mérida is the cultural center of the Yucatan, with many museums and both Mayan and modern creative arts.

Mérida has one of the largest centro histórico districts in Central America, and our hotel is on the edge of it, making for easy strolling to major city attractions. We will enjoy music and dancing on streets and parks close to our hotel. Unlike much of the rest of Mexico, Mérida has few crime and drug problems, and Floridians who live there, including our own member Robert Constable and his wife, walk the streets at all hours.

Being isolated from the rest of Mexico, Mérida has a unique culture. Yucatecan cuisine is distinctly different from the rest of the country with fruits and vegetables we do not know here. 60% of the population is of Mayan ancestry. Mayan ruins such as Chichen Itza and Uxmal dot the Yucatan.

The climate tends to be hot and humid, but we are traveling there during the coolest time of the year.

(Activities in the following itinerary are subject to change.)

DAY 1 - Arrive in Mérida and make your way to Hotel Los Aluxes (a number of Sarasotans have stayed here in the past and have liked it.

DAY 2 - Greeting by City Officials, Panoramic tour of Mérida, and a visit to a chocolate and tequila producer. The tour explains the city’s culture and history, showing us many sights we will want to return to later. We will learn the processes and smell the subtle aroma as cacao is joined with sugar cane and organic vanilla to produce many kinds of chocolate. We will then observe tequila and other liquors being derived from exotic fruits. A tasting is surely in order. The date and time of the greeting by City Officials is subject to their availability.

DAY 3 - Visit to Mayan ruin of Chichén Itza with lunch included. This is the most famous and best restored of the Mayan ruins and will impress even the most jaded traveler. Its beauty and majesty justify its popularity. During the 1st AD, Mayan culture reached levels of civilization rivaling those of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Mayans were superb astronomers, architects/builders, athletes, and mathematicians — and Chichén Itza is one of the best illustrations of this culture.

DAY 4 - Visit to a hacienda, Sotuta de Peón with lunch included. In the early years of the country, The name, "hacienda” was a businesses for raising cattle or sheep, for growing crops, for growing henequen or sisal, known as oro verde or green gold. “Hacienda” at that time did not refer to their beautiful buildings that constituted their self-sufficient community. In the mid-1940s when synthetic yarn was invented, haciendas began to deteriorate. Recently haciendas are being restored to their architectural beauty
and are now used as restaurants, country hotels, and tourist destinations (explaining the businesses formerly run there),. Sotuta de Peón was known for the production of sisal and rope. (lunch is included)

DAY 5 - Tour to Celestún to see flamingos and go the big market of unique fruits and vegetables (lunch included). Celestún is a small, sleepy village known for its Reserva de la Biosfera, where an abundance of wildlife resides, especially flamingos. That evening we go to a cooking school to watch a Yucatecan meal explained and prepared for us.

DAY 6 - Visit to the magical city of Izamal (lunch included). This city where everything is painted yellow, is an old town where locals and tourists alike still get about in calesas or carriages. In addition to the clippity clop of the horses, the streets are cobblestone and the lampposts are cast iron, harkening to an earlier day. Three strong forces create Izamal, the Mayan, the colonial, and the present day. It is a beautiful place to visit and the native handicrafts are abundant.

DAY 7 - Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art with a brief lecture on the state of the creative arts in the Yucatan and get recommendations for great works in other Mérida museums. Remainder of the day free.

DAY 8 - Free day to shop, stroll, or take an excursion to Progreso and lunch at Eliades, visit churches, and/or enjoy the many museums of Mérida. By now you will feel completely comfortable and at ease in Mérida doing whatever you want.

DAY 9 - Depart for the airport or Cancun, depending on your flight. 

For further questions call or email Dave Harralson 

Click for a printable copy of the brochure

Click for a printable copy of the flyer