I first heard about Mérida from my colleagues, Liza Prado and Gary Chandler, authors of Moon Yucatan Peninsula . They raved about this sprawling city of a million (four hours west of Cancun) as a practical travel base -- colonial color inside the city limits and converted 500-year-old haciendas in the countryside.
I finally got to visit and photograph Mérida  last June and was definitely impressed. Moreover, the city gives immediate access to a number of worthy Maya archaeological sites, like Uxmal, the Puuc Route, and Dzibilchaltun. Mérida is the setting of Beryl Gorbman's awesome thriller 2012: Deadly Awakening  (the best fictional treatment of Maya 2012 I've read); it is home to museums, Maya eateries, and chocolate makers.
So it was a pleasure to find Elisabeth Malkin's 36-hour tribute  in today's New York Times Sunday Travel Section. She calls Mérida "a languid city of pastel mansions and evening promenades" and goes on to outline a food-heavy three-day exploration. You can read the complete article here .