We traveled to the enchanting Yucatán peninsula in search of the perfect setting for a uniquely romantic experience. Hidden cenotes, mysterious caves, verdant earthy jungles, sugary coconut groves and fabled ruins awaited us just few hours drive from hippy haven of Tulum.
Although we had already read about the mystical town of Valladolid, it was all entirely unexpected. With such an interesting mix of Spanish-style architecture, such as colonial-era mansions and cathedrals, the sleepy colonial town truly felt like a Mexican film set. Imagine palm-filled plazas, cobblestone pathways, lined with pastel-colored buildings, magnificent old haciendas, friendly women wearing traditional embroidered huipils, vintage Volkswagen bugs… Occasionally, you can even find a beautifully decorated horse-drawn carriage poking out of an alley.
Despite being tempted to spend the day drifting from one cantina to the next sipping cocktails, we made sure we didn’t miss out any of the attractions that make this region so enchanting. We particularly loved visiting the lovely Convent of San Bernardino, and swimming in spectacular sparkling sink holes called cenotes. These little oases in the heart of the jungle are hidden jewels of Yucatán.
We also marveled at polychrome facades on la calzada, Calle de Los Frailes -the premium shopping strip in town. Waking along this street was like being in a kaleidoscope of orange, red, green, and pale blue. Did you know Valladolid has an important history that’s been grounded in the art of perfume? Housed within a XVI century building and situated on Calzada de Los Frailes, Coqui Coqui’s flagship perfumery has a wonderful collection of fragrances inspired by the fruits, flowers, herbs and woods found within the landscapes of the Yucatán Peninsula.
What we loved most about this sleepy town was that it has all the flavors of traditional Mexican life. In the afternoon, we would pick up a tamale from a friendly street-food vendor and have it amid the gardens blooming with gardenias and lime trees. Believe me, they taste better than any tamales I’ve ever had! Then, we would go to the sultry, dimly lit cantinas for an early-evening cerveza. For our first dinner, we went to El Mesón del Marqués restaurant. It was touristy, but with reason as it has a lovely garden patio and live music. After dinner, we would walk around the main plaza enticed with the sounds of live mariachi and marimba bands.