After a delayed flight and missed connection, we eventually arrived at our hostel in Cancún at around 9pm on Wednesday. We booked a 2 night stay at Moloch Hostel, which is right by the main bus station in downtown Cancún.

Two great things about Moloch Hostel: it has a pool, and the dorms have air conditioning at night between 9pm and 8am. Both of these things were a godsend to us, as we’re still getting used to the scorching Mexico heat! It is also a fairly quiet hostel, probably due to the fact that no alcohol is allowed on the premises, and the staff are very friendly and – helpfully for our fledgling Spanish skills – bilingual.

Cancún is almost two cities in one. In the Zona Hotelera you will find the swanky beach hotels and buzzing nightlife – Cancún is a famously popular destination for American college students on spring break, and with good reason. There is loads going on and plenty to keep even the most hardened party-goer entertained at all hours.

However, this wasn’t the Cancún we wanted to see and would have been way out of our budget, so we actually didn’t venture into the Zona Hotelera. Instead we stuck to the downtown area, and spent our day in the city wandering around and soaking up the sights.

Our first stop in the morning was the bus station, where we bought tickets to Valladolid for the next morning. This was our first attempt at a transaction in Spanish, which was a little daunting, but we discovered to our relief the next morning that we had in fact bought tickets for the right bus!

Afterwards we walked back past our hostel a little way down the street to the Parque de las Palapas, arguably the most popular spot for locals in the city that has nightly live entertainment and a wealth of food and drink vendors lining the main plaza. It has a very welcoming vibe, and we sat down on a park bench (in the shade…!) to watch the world go by for a while. We went back again that evening to watch the live performance on the stage and enjoy the atmosphere. The crowd was a mix of families (whose children could ride around in little electronic cars that were available for rent), older schoolchildren and adults who had come after work to enjoy the tasty food (corn on the cob in particular seems to be a favourite) and wander around. As well as the main entertainment on the stage, we saw several groups dotted around practising things like dancing and cheerleading.

After walking around the Parque de las Palapas, we wandered a little further to the Mercado 28. The best way to describe this market is a cross between Camden Markets and Brick Lane in London – the vast array of stalls sell anything and everything, and the vendors at each stall have a voracious salesmanship that rivals even that of the waiters at the Brick Lane restaurants who try to encourage passers-by to come in for food. At every stall someone would pop out and ask us to look at their wares – especially those from the jewellery stalls who, when we replied with our standard “no, gracias”, would then berate Dan for not getting any jewellery for his “queen”!

When we had finished looking around the heat had finally gotten to us, so we headed back to our hostel for a much needed swim. Later that evening we visited Los de Pescado, a tiny street restaurant that was highly recommended in our guidebook and sells the most delicious seafood tacos, at the bargain price of £1 per taco! We then went to a couple of bars and had a few cervezas (which were also around £1 each, we could definitely get used to this…) before heading back to our hostel to get some sleep before our bus to Valladolid.