By: Susan Gerle

Valladolid, (pronounced via dough lead) with a population of around 70,000, is a wonderful colonial town to visit while in Mexico. Take a 2-hour bus ride from the ADO (pronounced adio) bus terminal in Cancun.

The terminal in Valladolid is located only 2 blocks from the main square and it is an easy walk. Don’t expect to find too many people who speak English. Mayan is the first language for many in the area and Spanish the second language.

There are many interesting places to visit in and around the town.

1. The zocolo (main square) is lit up nightly with pink lights shining into the green leaves of the massive trees. The historical old church is situated on one end of the square and is open to the public. Across from the church is the original government building, which now houses the Mayan cultural centre. If you choose to stay in a hotel overlooking the zocolo, you may want to choose a room off the main street. The thousands of birds that wake up as dawn approaches are extremely noisy!

2. The Zaci Cenote is located 3 blocks from the zocolo on Calle 39 (39th street). It will only cost 20 pesos for entry into the cenote, or you can view it from the restaurant above. If you happen to be there around dusk, you can observe the bats leaving the cave, which is quite a site!

Valladolid produces it’s own liquor, a concoction of honey, flowers, and anise and the only place you can purchase it is in the city. Ask for a tasting at the restaurant.

3. “The Walk Of The Monks” is considered the most beautiful street in Valladolid. From the zocolo, walk on Calle 39 past the Ado Terminal and turn left at Calle 46. Walk 2 more blocks and turn right at the church symbol. The street is built of bricks and is very peaceful, except for the occasional car. There are many traditional colonial homes on the street. There is also a wonderful hostel, complete with a traditional Mayan home if you are looking for some place to stay away from the busy streets.

4. The Convent Of San Bernardino De Siena was constructed and finished in 1560 by the Franciscan Order. It’s located at the end of the “Walk of the Monks” road. Tours are given occasionally by an English-speaking guide for a reasonable fee. Negotiate ahead of time.

5. There is some fantastic shopping available in Valladolid. It’s a safe city to wonder around in during the day. Get at least 2 blocks away from the zocolo to discover the local prices. You won’t be able to barter but prices are much lower than the Mayan Riviera.

6. Valladolid is the perfect place to stay if you plan a trip out to Chichen Itza. If you are adventuresome, take the Oriente bus from the ADO Terminal on Calle 39. It’s less than half the price of the ADO bus but just as comfortable. You also travel on the Camionara Libre (free highway) so there is much more to see. If you go out about 9 AM, you will miss all the tour busses and be able to take pictures of the pyramids without people in front of them.

Before you start your tour you may want to pick up a copy of the book “The Mayan Calendar Made Easy.” It answers a lot of interesting questions, especially if you are into numbers. The book is available in the main bookstore at the site before you enter the grounds. That is also where you purchase your return bus ticket.

7. The main pyramid at Chichen Itza can no longer be climbed but if climbing a pyramid is something on your “must do” list, then go see Ek Balam. The site was discovered in 1997 and is still being excavated. It is actually 3 meters taller than Chichen Itza. In order to get out to the site you will have to rent a car or hire a taxi or a car and driver for the day. There are some who speak English and if you are staying at a hotel someone will have connections. Just make sure you negotiate the price before you go and make arrangements to pay only when you return. Also, pack a lunch and extra water to take with you, and take a couple of cold “cervesa” for your driver.

There are many places in the interior of Mexico to visit. It’s well worth being adventuresome and discovering some of the most beautiful and historical sites in the Americas.

About the author:

Susan Gerle tries to experience as many new things as she can in her travels.