Chichen Itza/Valladolid, Mexico
It wouldn’t do to leave Valladolid without mentioning our visit to Chichen Itza – another of the world’s great monuments that lives up to its hype and delivers a real experience of wonder (for me, reminiscent of my experience with the Great Buddha in Nara, Japan). There’s a lot more at the site than the famous pyramid, we spent almost five hours exploring the ruins, but it is the pyramid that gets under your skin. Perhaps all that symmetry and astronomical knowledge they managed to get in there resonates instinctively. In any case it’s easy to understand the power it had over the Mayans, and I’m sure even more so once you have seen the shadow at the equinox, when a snake appears to descend the pyramid.
For fellow travellers, I should also mention our very affordable youth hostel in which we slept in a grass hut out the back: Hostal del Fraile . We also passed a very pleasant evening at Taberna de los Frailes next to the convent, where I can highly recommend the “Friar’s satay” appetizer, the mains didn’t quite live up to the promise of the appetizers though. In general I would recommend: stick to the cheaper end of the menu and skip dessert but the ambience makes up for a lot.