Good morning! Welcome to "Morning Musings".

Musings: to meditate, think, contemplate, deliberate, ponder, reflect, ruminate, reverie, daydream, introspection, dream, preoccupation, brood, cogitate.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Gran Hotel - Merida, Mexico

The Gran Hotel in Merida, Mexico is the oldest hotel in Merida.  Opened in 1901 the "French neo-Classic architecture attracted many movie producers and photographers.  Guest book entries range from Fidel Castro to Charles Lindbergh, from Douglas Fairbanks to Cesar Augusto Sandino."

No wonder I felt something special when I entered through the portico. . .

photo credit:  Web
We were in Merida to attend our grandson's baptism.  Our daughter-in-law's sister, who lives in Merida, was having her son baptized also so it was decided to go down to Mexico to have Alejandro baptized there alongside Abraham.  This would be my first time in Mexico if you don't count the few days spent in Cancun in the 1990s on a company-sponsored trip.  That trip was awarded to top salespeople and Ken had qualified.  Ken began learning Spanish a couple years ago when we started anticipating a bi-lingual grandchild, so we felt well-equipped to be on our own for most of the week in downtown Merida while our son and family stayed at his mother-in-laws.  

We'd left our house in Maryland before 6:00 a.m. on Saturday the 13th, dropped off Gabriel at another son's, picked up our son, daughter-in-law, and grandson and continued on to the airport in Baltimore.  It was a direct flight to Cancun, but then we'd have to take a 4-hour bus ride to Merida.  We got through Customs quickly because our DIL retained her Mexican citizen when she became a U.S. citizen last year.  This allowed us to go through the shorter line for Mexican citizens.  Our DIL's family met us in two cars.  By now it was after 6:00 p.m. so we all went out for supper after which we were dropped off at the hotel.  Because there are no elevators and we were on the third floor our bags were carried up these stairs. . . .

We paused on the 2nd floor to look across the atrium.  This is a view of the first and second floors. . .

This photo taken the next day includes the view across the atrium of the third floor.  You can see our room door on the far right. . . .

We continued up another flight of stairs. . . .

This video was taken the next evening and shows the covering over the atrium--it is open to the sky around the border and porous so the moment you step out of your room you feel the heat and humidity.  You can hear the music wafting in from the square. . . .

This is the door to our room!

When we walk in I'm amazed at the height of the ceiling.  Our closet is the armoire with the mirror. . . .

The tile floor....  I wonder if it's the original. . . .

There is a writing desk at which I'll paint the scene out our window later.  The smaller door goes to an adjoining bedroom for those who need more space. . . .

The amazing door has shutters to let the air flow through in pre-air-conditioning days. . . .

I threw open the curtains and stepped out onto the balcony before I saw the sign saying "Do not open window". . . .

This was taken at 9:30. . . . .

But we were not in for the night.  The porter had told us about a shop that was still open that sold guayabera shirts made by artisans locally.  We met up with him again in the atrium and he offered to take us to the shop, so we followed him through the crowded streets down a block and half-way up another.  Ken found one to wear to the baptism along with a matching one for little Alejandro in a couple years.  These were made from sisal which was a major industry in the Yucatan the latter part of the 19th/first part of the 20th century.  The article in the link says it may be making a come-back.  I'm glad to hear it because we were told it was a natural mosquito repellant.  In fact, we did not encounter one mosquito until the following Saturday when we went to a Mayan village just outside Merida where Alejandro's baptism was being held at the local church where our DIL's cousin was to officiate.

Before going back to the hotel, we browsed in shops and at the tables set up in the park.  The street was closed on one side of the hotel, open horse-drawn carriages were clip-clopping along. . . .

People were coming and going, the cathedrals and statues were lit up. . . .
Iglesia Catedral San Iidefonso
Parque de La Madre
The next morning we woke up to this bird on the balcony outside the window by the bed. . . .

I could not get enough of this view from the other window so you will be seeing it several times.  The church is Iglesia de la Tercera Orden.  Here are several views during the week. . . .

Sunday morning we were up and seated for breakfast in the sidewalk cafe attached to the hotel by 7:00 a.m.  Here is the outside of the hotel.  Our room is the two windows on the top floor with the curtains half open. . . .

Later we had lunch at the same sidewalk cafe since it was raining quite heavily. . . .

There is another hotel on the square as well.  You can see we are drinking bottled water.  We were advised to not use tap water to drink or brush our teeth since we are not native to the country and might be sensitive to the bacteria that residents are accustomed to.  We stayed away from street vendors and stuck with restaurants which all use purified water in their food preparations. . . .

The square is now called Parque Hidalgo after Miquel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest and leader of the Mexican War of Independence in 1811.  Originally it was named after General Manuel Cepeda Peraza.  He fought against the imperialists in 1867 and restored the republican government and assumed the position of governor of the Yucatan state.  You can see the feet of someone still sleeping just to the left of his statue.  It was not unusual to see someone sleeping on one of the benches every night. . . .

The last evening we were there it rained. . . .

Seeing it rain INSIDE the hotel was a sight to behold. . . .

You may be wondering what such a grand hotel cost per day:  $817.  That's in pesos (they use the same $ sign we do so it was rather startling at first).  In U.S. dollars it was only $44.00!  The food was inexpensive as well.  As you will see in upcoming posts we visited the chocolate shop several times.  The only thing expensive was the clothing.  However, the last morning I was there I decided to get my other grandson a guayabera, too.  When I hesitated over the price, the shopkeeper quickly lowered it.  I wish I'd known he'd do this earlier in the week when I bought my granddaughter a dress there.

As you can see it's taken me a whole post to tell you just about the hotel!  In upcoming posts I'll be showing you more architecture from around the city, our visits to the museums, and the nightly events the city holds not only for us tourists but its residents.

.•*¨`*•. ☆ .•*¨`*•
Take Joy!


  1. The grand quadrangle hotel is lovely. How neat to see it raining inside while you were there. I remember years ago our daughter wanted to buy a small doll in Mexico. She did quite a good job negotiating the deal. I must say I really don't favor not knowing how far down they will go. Years later Grayden bought me an opal bracelet and he got the price way down as well. Me, I'm not so good at wheeling and dealing. You really do have to be willing to walk away. ♥

    1. I was quite surprised he offered me a lower price. I'd only hesitated for a moment and probably would have paid the first price because I was in a hurry.

  2. What a wonderful visit. I can almost feel the warmth of Mexico arriving with me in Wales as I read this morning. Looking forward to the forthcoming entries, especially the chocolate shop.

    1. But can you take the humidity?! That's what did me in.

  3. What an interesting trip, Cathy, and what wonderful memories you'll have for years to come!

    1. We're already analyzing the elements that made it such a wonderful week so we can duplicate it somewhere else.

  4. Enjoyed the tour! Amazing Gran Hotel. I especially enjoyed the video of the rain. Looking forward to seeing more!

  5. Elegant, historic, artistic, and opulent and ONLY $44 per night! I'm going! What a gorgeous time you must have had, delightful. So, all in all, you must have loved this trip?
    Back in the late 70's, I spent a lot of time in Mexico. I thought it to be a most beautiful place, but the drivers were simply horrid! Maybe things have changes since then, but there were no speed limits on the roads and people were just crazy drivers.
    There is a very interesting audiobook on LIBRIVOX, called Life in Mexico. It was written by the American wife of a Spanish diplomat sent to Mexico to live for a few years and it is very fascinating. You can listen for free online. I've played it many times. After having been to Mexico, you may enjoy it.

    1. It's our understanding that the driving you describe is mainly in Mexico City. It wasn't too bad in the Yucatan....except we did notice our bus and cab drivers did tend to roll through stop signs if there was no other cars coming. The downtown area was congested, but since we were on foot it didn't bother us--except that the sidewalks were very narrow and I kept imagining being accidentally bumped by the crowds on the sidewalk and ending up in the street, run over by a car! Or, stepping in the many holes (actual openings into open spaces, not just depressions) in the sidewalk. It seemed to me that the City of Merida was not concerned about lawsuits. Thanks for letting me know about the audiobook.

  6. Cathy, you are a better traveler than I have been. Over 12 hours and sitting down to a leisurely dinner before going to the hotel and taking in all the wonders around you!
    The hotel is elegant, so very much a place of its time. I'm glad you were there and I look forward to more of your adventure.

    1. You can be sure that I slept well that night! The music was still playing in the streets but I zonked out pretty quickly.

    2. It's a beautiful hotel. The pictures you shared are stunning as is the history. I've been to most of the beach towns in Mexico but never Merida. I'd love visit this place. Sounds like you had a fabulous time. Pat

    3. We did, Pat. I'm looking forward to sharing more of our adventure.

  7. The hotel looks so grand and impressive! It must have been wonderful to stay there. I didn't expect mexico to be anything like that! Sarah x

    1. I'd made myself at home there. It was bittersweet to leave it, especially the view.

  8. Beautiful hotel, Cathy. You had a wonderful time, I'm sure. Reminded me a little of those old travelogs they show on Turner Classic Movies - the ones they used to run as short subjects at the movies back in the day. Except your version had much better information. What views you had!! And the price couldn't be beat either, huh? Tell me, did the hotel seem extra-humid on rainy days? Seeing that it had that inner courtyard that was "rained on" too. And how was the food? You know how people always say that Chinese food in America isn't at all what Chinese people eat? Well I'm wondering if the Mexican food that Mexicans eat is the same? If it's different than the Mexican food we have here in the States, I'm betting the Mexican food in Mexico is MUCH better. Have you ever seen the movie - or read the book - "Like Water for Chocolate?" You might like it - especially since you've just returned from a visit. It's set in Mexico and actually has recipes in it - and I think the movie was beautifully done. It's an odd story, but once I started watching the movie I was hooked. 🇲🇽

    1. The setting does remind you of a movie set. Our room had it's own air conditioner so the contrast between the room and just outside the door was striking--and it did seem more humid after the rain to me. I am not a food connoisseur so I am not the one to ask, but Ken thought the food was excellent. I did get tired of "mexican" food after awhile so we ate at different kinds of food that we were used to. I have not see that movie. I will check it out. Thanks!


Thank you for your comments! Please note: To prevent spam comments are published after moderation.