We travelled to Valladolid with Ireen (from Germany), intending it as a stopover between Merida and the coast, and a good base for visiting Chichen-Itza without the tours. The city in itself is pleasant, colouful and quiet, and a perfect size to spend 2 days in.
We managed to squeeze in a visit to the San Lorenzo cenote before sunset on the first day, getting really lucky with transportation as we were offered a lift both ways (more about this funny experience in the ‘transportation’ post). There we met yet more Germans: a couple (who offered us the return lift), and a solo traveller, who all worked in the music industry. The cenote was one of the best we went to, hardly any people, cheap, big and blue, outoors and, to Renaud’s delight, equipped with a swing rope so that he could practise his Tarzan technique. A few belly, back, bum and arm flops later, we were having a sundowner by the pool: beers on the house offered by the very chatty and friendly staff. A definite highlight. That evening we all had dinner together at the food court on the main square, and a few drinks afterwards.
We headed out early to Chichen-Itza the next day, to avoid the crowds. Although a beautiful and impressive site, we found Chichen-Itza a little underwhelming (or overrated). The one really well-known pyramid is not even that big, and most of the other structures we had already seen before in other sites, and better conditions. Added to that the excessive amount of street-sellers, the crowds and the fact that we could not explore inside or on top of any of the ruins. On the positive side, we did enjoy seeing the ‘Juego de Pelota’ ball court, the largest in existance, hearing echoes bounce off its walls like tennis balls, as well as getting up close to the resident iguanas.
Ireen took an earlier bus out of Valladolid and Renaud and I rented a bike to do another few cenotes, much more commercial (and expensive) this time. We topped off the day with a visit to the chocolate museum, tasting many differently flavoured and locally made samples: natural, honey, salt, sesame, chili, coffee…; before catching our late bus to Tulum.