Top Things To Do In Mazatlan

Believe it or not, I sometimes do take from architecture as a profession and hobby. During these times I travel to far flung places. Here is one of those places. I hope you too also take a break from architecture, buildings and designs and taste something different for a change.

Located along the Pacific Coast, at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains, Mazatlan is Mexico’s biggest commercial port and a sought-after tourist destination for both, land-based vacations as well as cruise trips. Once a party destination for spring breakers, the resort town of Mazatlan has emerged into a travel spot for families, older tourists and budget travelers. Nicknamed as the “Pearl of the Pacific” because of its golden beaches and marine life, Mazatlan offers attractions and activities to suit everyone’s tastes.

Best Time To Visit Mazatlan

The best time to visit Mazatlan is during the months of October and November. The rainy season is over, temperatures are in the high 80s and many hotels still offer very good deals, but to enjoy all these perks of the fall season, you must do you bookings well in advance. December to March is peak season so expect inflated hotel rates and crowds. June to September is a soggy wreck with frequent rainstorms. You can also save a buck by visiting in April or May.

Getting Around in Mazatlan

The public bus system in the city is simple to use and easy on the pockets too. If you plan to tour the town with many stops in between, you can opt for a taxi or rent in a car.  Another option to tour Mazatlan is in the open-air carts or Pulmonias. They are pricier than taxis but allow you to experience the local culture closely!

Must-See Attractions in Mazatlan

In Centro Historico or Old Mazatlan, check out the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, a magnificent 19th century cathedral and your cameras will not stop clicking. Treat your taste buds to some delicious shrimp tacos and papas locos (giant baked potatoes) available with the street side vendors. Stroll by the beautiful statues of the Malecon and watch an evening performance at the Teatro Angela Peralta, the Opera House. Also, a must-see is the sea lion show and the bird theater in the Mazatlan Aquarium, the largest of its kind in Mexico. Take a tour of the Pacifico brewery that offers samples of ales and lagers only available south of the border and check out Pueblo Viejo or the ‘Old Town’ characterized by its cobbled streets and historic buildings. If you have time, you must experience the sunrise from atop the El Faro, the highest operating lighthouse in the world.

Outdoor Activities in Mazatlan

Water sports rule in this seaside resort town. Tourists can hire water sports equipment like kayaks, banana boats and snorkeling gear (for snorkeling & diving click here for more destinations) from the several tour and travel companies scattered throughout town. Jet skiing and kayaking excursions are also available. Surfing, sport fishing and whale watching are popular activities here and the city is home to the choicest of surfing spots. Birding and horseback riding tours offer a more easygoing beat. In recent times, golf courses designed by Lee Trevino and Robert Trent Jones Jr. have aided Mazatlan evolve as a golfing destination.

Accommodations and Dining In Mazatlan

Like most resort towns, Mazatlan offers a variety of accommodation options. Golden Zone or ‘Zona Dorada’ features most of the beachfront hotels, resorts, and restaurants. Room tariff is economical as compared to room rates in the US. Hotels in the downtown area tend to be less expensive but the rates rise as you move north and into the Zona Dorada. Mazatlan also offers a varied assortment of eateries, from fine dining restaurants to the budget ‘loncheries’ which serve only lunch. Mazatlan is home to one of the biggest shrimp fleets in the world, which is why fresh shrimp is usually on the menu.

Nightlife in Mazatlan

Mazatlan parties late into the nights. American students throng here for spring break and at the end of February, the locals get on to the streets with live music and dancing to celebrate a weeklong festival. Each Sunday night, the Hotel Playa Mazatlan exhibits a free fireworks display on the beach in front of the hotel.

Shopping In Mazatlan

There are plentiful of shopping options available in Mazatlan. Shop for local goods like pottery, clothing and crafts right outside the historic center. Zona Dorada may have the biggest collection of shops, but tourists need to be careful as this area is a major tourist trap. Mazatlan also has open-air markets and indoor shopping mall for goods like local arts and crafts, silver jewelry and souvenirs.

How I Relished Old World Architecture In Merida

Merida is the largest city on the Yucatan peninsula, with a population of around 1 million. By virtue of its local customs, colonial homes, hidden courtyards and tropical gardens, the city of Merida maintains a very easygoing and an old-world feel.

The cultured Mexican city of Merida enjoys a vibrant ambience with music concerts, dance and art exhibitions, local carnivals and religious celebrations being organized almost throughout the year. But the day-to-day affairs move at a laid-back beat, thanks to the Caribbean climate.

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With several hotels and restaurants, cultural appeal and a bustling shopping scene, Merida, the Yucatan capital, is not only an important tourist center but is also the perfect base for exploring the nearby Mayan ruins and natural wonders of the area. If you happen to be in Cancun, then Merida should be in your list as it has an old world charm which is a huge departure from resort towns in the area.

ATMOSPHERE

Merida happens to be one of the safest cities in Mexico along with Playa del Carmen, so you can enjoy being a tourist here without ever feeling like one. Old limestone mansions dating back to the 19th century border the wide boulevards. Palacio Canton, one of the most decorated mansions of the city. Located on the city’s grandest boulevard, Paseo Montejo, this mansion is home to an archaeological museum that features Mayan treasures. The streets, which are lined by trees, are scattered with food-cart vendors and beautifully decorated horse-drawn carriages that are the main mode of getting around in the city. There is a lot of hustle-bustle around the city centre and market area, especially on weekend nights when the narrow streets around its central plaza are closed to traffic and music from the sidewalk cafes fills the air.

MAYAN INFLUENCE

Francisco de Montejo of Spain conquered the Mayan city of T’ho in 1542. The limestone buildings of T’ho reminded him of the ancient Roman structures of Merida in Spain and hence he renamed this city as Merida. The Mayan culture reflects in almost every aspect of this city – the architecture, cuisine, art, music, language and even the regional costumes!

ACCOMODATIONS

Merida offers visitors a variety of unique accommodations. The old mansions in Merida are a representation of the wealth made in this region in the 19th century. Most of these colonial homes of the city have been transformed into luxury inns and hotels. Some travelers prefer putting up in one of the luxury haciendas (restored plantations) in the countryside that offer spa services and eco-tours of the jungle.

DINING

Merida’s food scene is flourishing due to locavores and gourmet chefs. The trademark flavors of Mayan cuisine are sour orange, habanero chiles and roasted meats, but Merida is a cosmopolitan city where chefs merge local ingredients, like fresh fish and tropical fruits, into present-day savories. Many restaurants in Merida offer ‘courtyard dining’ where guests can relish a leisurely dinner by candlelight, under the stars, ringed by bewitching flowers and plants.

SHOPPING

A large number of shoppers flock to Mérida’s busy market district where vendors offer a colorful mix of jazzy mementos. Top quality local products in Merida include the famous Yucatecan hammocks, lacework, linens, guayaberas (lightweight shirts for men), Panama hats, local baskets, pottery, spices, embroidered huipils (wee-peels) and rebozos (lightweight shawls, worn by Mayan women).

DAY TRIPS

Merida is in close proximity to world-famous Mayan ruin sites such as Chichen Itza (74 miles to the east) and Uxmal (50 miles to the southeast).

Hacienda de Sotuta de Peon is a henequen plantation just 25 miles south of Merida, where visitors can view the harvesting of the fiber that was used to make ‘sisal’, which is an important product in the Yucatan even today.

The small and charming community of Izamal is just a 45-minutes drive west of Merida. Graced as “magical” by the Mexican government for its charm and eternal appeal, Izamal is a peaceful retreat of colonial buildings built on the top of an ancient Mayan center.

60 miles to the southwest of Merida is the seaside community of Celestun, which happens to be the breeding ground for one of the world’s biggest flamingo flocks.

To beat the crowds and the heat, it’s a good idea to visit these sites in the early Morning.

10 Most Unique Buildings Of The World

The human mind never fails to astonish us with its creativity. Architecture is one such discipline where its creative faculties are best employed. Here we present to you a list of 10 unique architectural marvels which have caught the eye of one and all due to their alluring designs. Some of these buildings are quite strange and bizarre while some have really great architecture. You might be even shocked to know that some of these exist, really.

1. THE CROOKED HOUSE

The_Crooked_House

The Crooked House is located in Rezydent Shopping Centre, Sopot, Poland. It might be a little difficult to believe, but it is actually designed ‘crooked’. The house was built in 2003 and was designed by the architect Szotynscy Zaleski and whoever sees the house cannot help but wonder how he must have thought of such a strange design. It is spread over an area of 4000 square meters. Though it is crooked, the house is still symmetrical and so it just looks weird and not ugly to look at.

2. THE FOREST SPIRAL, GERMANY

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The Forest Spiral is located in Darmstadt, Germany. It is a residential building complex shaped in the form of a spiral. The designer of the building is Friedensreich Hundertwasser, an artist, and the architect is Heinz Springmann. It is also called the Hundertwasser building. The building is beautifully designed with the right use of colours giving it a dazzling appearance. It has a green roof, 12 floors, 105 apartments, an artificial lake, a playground and a courtyard too. It appears as though the windows are out of order.

3. THE BASKET BUILDING, UNITED STATES

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The Basket Building is located in Newark, Ohio, United States. It is shaped like a huge picnic basket and it actually is the world’s largest basket. It is actually Longaberger’s home office. It is a 7-story building and spreads over a vast area. It has recently been announced that the building is for sale.

4. HABITAT 67, MONTREAL, CANADA

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The Habitat 67 housing complex is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. This building was built as a part of the Expo-67. It looks like cubes arranged over each other. Each of the houses in the complex has its own garden. Though the building looks unstable due to its design, but it is quite comfortable to live in. The architect of the building is Moshe Safdie. The project under which the building was constructed was actually intended to create affordable houses for people, which are closely spaced, but also private at the same time.

5. THE DANCING BUILDING, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

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The Nationale-Nederlanden building in Prague, Czech Republic is also known as the ‘Fred and Ginger’ building and more popularly as the dancing building. Well, these names are due to the fluid design of the building. The building was completed in 1996 and was designed by the architect Vlado Milunic in cooperation with a Canadian architect Frank Gehry. This building was constructed on an empty riverfront plot. It has a unique design with the towers of the building spiralling around each other. It is made of glass and has ancient architecture. The Celeste Restaurant is located on the top floor. You can view the Prague Castle from the restaurant while relishing your favourite dish here.

6. THE CUBIC HOUSES, NETHERLANDS

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The Cubic Houses in Rotterdam, Netherlands have been built by the architect Piet Blom. The building has been built over a pedestrian bridge. It has 38 cubes attached to each other at different angles, resembling the branches of a tree and together forming a forest like structure of cubes. Each of these cubes has three levelled living areas. Together, it appears to be a beautiful piece of architecture.

7. NATIONAL CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, CHINA

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Abbreviated as NCPA, the National Centre for the Performing Arts is located in the sprawling city of Beijing, China. It is an opera house shaped like an ellipsoid dome due to which it looks like a huge egg and is also called The Giant Egg. It is made of glass and titanium and looks stunning. The construction of this building took 6 years, from December 2001 to December 2007. It has three halls which can seat 5,452 people and is surrounded by an artificial lake. The building covers an area of 12,000 metre square. It was a designed by a French architect Paul Andreu.

8. PIANO AND VIOLIN BUILDING, CHINA

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And we have another one on our list from China. This bizarre, but elegant building shaped like a giant piano and a violin, is located in Huainan, China. It was built in 2007 and is a showroom for city planners. It was designed by the designers from Huainan Fangkai Decoration Project Company and the architecture students from the Hefey University of Technology.

9. THE NAUTILUS HOUSE, MEXICO

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This beautiful shell-shaped house was built in 2006 by Javier Senosiain, a Mexican artist of Arquitectura Organica. It is located near Mexico City and has been designed as per the concept of bio-architecture. The idea of bio-architecture promotes the use of the natural forms of life in architecture, which in this case is the aquatic life. The complete design of the house is quite innovative, unique and a complete blend of the modern and contemporary styles of architecture. The house has a dominant organic theme and will make you feel close to nature. The whole idea about the house aims to create and maintain a harmony with nature. The house also has an indoor garden.

10. BMW WELT, GERMANY

bmw-welt

The BMW Welt in Munich, Germany is one of a kind as far as its architecture is concerned. It was constructed during 2003-2007 by Wolf Prix from the architectural firm Coop Himmelblau. Its design is one of the best among the car delivery centres in Germany. Adding to all this, the luxury showroom is also solar powered. It has high grade solar panels on the roof to capture the solar energy which is then distributed to the whole building. It also has thermally efficient surfaces within, to maintain constant temperature as well as natural ventilation systems. The building has a public gallery, a children’s centre and a conference suite.