I always enjoy a visit from friends as it means I have the opportunity to go exploring. During this years ‘Trish’ visit, we planned a 2 night get away to the city of Campeche. It’s an easy 2.5 hr bus ride from Merida at a cost of approximately 10 dollars each one way. The landscape soon changed from Yucatan flat to rolling hills. Campeche city has a population of over 240,000 and is sprawled out over a large area but our destination during this trip was the compact walled city centre of Campeche.
What a picturesque center with rows of brightly painted colonial buildings and narrow cobblestone streets surrounded by stone walls built to protect the city from pirate attacks in the 17th century.
Calle 59 is blocked off to traffic and is where you will find a variety of restaurants and bars catering to the many tourists in the area. Every time we walked down this street we were met with persistent workers trying to entice us to eat in their establishment. There was no shortage of places to eat or drink.
Café Sotavento had some amazing and interesting art and decadent desserts. While here enjoying a piece of delicious chocolate cake and lemonades, we were entertained by a couple of local ladies counting wads of cash at the table while sharing their own piece of cake. I think they had strawberry.
Right away we noticed the friendliness of the locals. Eager to assist us in crossing the street (gasp! cars actually stopped for us at crosswalks!) Also while wandering downtown we were recognized and greeted with a peck on the cheek and a hug from the staff from the hotel we were booked at. We stayed at Hotel Maya, conveniently located, clean, and affordable with amazing, helpful staff. Approximately 25 dollars Canadian each per night.
We partook in a afternoon city trolley tour on ‘El Guapo’ a 45 minute tour around the city. Cost 100 pesos each. I recommend you go on the 5 o’clock tour to take in the beautiful sunset. We stopped for a short break at the iglesia San Roman where you will find the Black Christ crucifix, lord of San Román. It’s made of black ebony and is about 452 yrs old.
The following day we planned a bike ride along the 7 km long malecon. The bike rental cost is 40 pesos per hour. We went early and it was a very pleasant ride along a dedicated bike path with great views of the gulf.
We cooled down from the bike ride with a wander through the botanical garden Xmuch-Haltun for a price of 15 pesos each. It’s a very small garden located in one of the surviving bastions of the city with a variety of tropical and indigenous plants. It’s a peaceful setting and a welcome respite from the heat. Good to note there are bathrooms located here.
On our last day we headed down to the ADO office to buy our bus tickets home. There was a swarm of people downtown and a buzz in the air. We had noticed the night before they were setting up for something with hundreds of chairs, tents and a stage. We asked the night hotel clerk, Jose, what was going on. He said it was some sort of salsa dancing event. Unfortunately we didn’t see any salsa dancers but this kind looking gentleman, el Presidente de México, Andrés Manuel López Obrador passed by within a foot of us.
A fitting end to a wonderful excursion to Campeche. Icing on the cake. The encounter had me smiling all the way home.