Trip Report: Tikal, Antigua, Santa Cruz / Atitlan
Replies: 3 - Last Post: Feb 24, 2013 8:38 AM Last Post By: FERDINAND_d_LANCE
Feb 23, 2013 10:51 AM
Arrived in GC with 5 hrs to kill before overnight bus. We went right to Linea Dorada to get tickets - they are professional deal (as pro as I've seen in Guatemala) and we felt good about reserving our tickets in advance. Your seat numbers are reserved. We took the "lujo" which was I think $30 pp one way. Overnight bus was fine. I needed a good amount of dramamine, as it was very swervy.
We took 2 tours in Tikal area: a sunset tour of Yaxha and a sunrise tour of Tikal with the astounding Roxy Ortiz. Best $200 we spent. She was so knowledgable about the area, full of insight about the Mayan history, ritual, ethnography, monkeys and toucans and Montezuma's Oropendula (Google that!), spirituality, everything. If you can spring for a Tikal guide I recommend it, otherwise you might just be wandering around a bunch of rocks. It truly is a magical place, and highly recommended.
Stayed at the Jungle Inn, which was good, not cheap but necessary for the timing. There are a few good comedores at the entrance inside the park.
SHADY ALERT: stay away from San Juan Travel in Flores. They are straight up con artists, and we even speak Spanish (and thus thought we were aware of what was going on)! The dude charged us a set amount for a one-way shuttle to Tikal, which was actually the posted round trip amount as we later learned. After an hour of haggling with the aloof "customer service" lady, I finally got her to change the ticket. But seriously.
Flores was very pretty - we spent an afternoon there and had a good meal at Cafe Yaxha and received fantastic hospitality from Cool Beans Cafe. Great prices, good vibe, free water, and they let us leave our stuff there and helped us figure out where the heck our bus was. Beautiful sunset view in Flores.
Another overnight bus and then chicken buses to delightful Panajachel, where we met some cool folks and had coffee at Crossroads Cafe. We also made a stop at Pollo Campero which is great if you are hot, desperate for a bathroom, and oh hey, free Wifi. And an ice cream cone. Enjoyed wandering in the market in Pana, near the plaza at the top of the main street.
Stayed in Santa Cruz at Isla Verde, which was a mixed bag. Pros: off the beaten path, gorgeous setting, great restaurant, views. Don't pre-pay for breakfast - just order when you are there. Cons: you have to walk on a precarious series of wooden planks to get there, very aloof staff, scorpion in our cabin, pretentious vibe.
We had a delicious dinner on Saturday at nearby Iguana Perdida. Incredible veg options. Really fun place to meet people!
Advice for boats on Lake Atitlan: sit in the BACK and in the MIDDLE. Otherwise you will get soaked. Natives and gringos alike were soaked to the bone during one of our trips between villages. Discuss the fare only with the captains, who all wear white uniform shirts.
We enjoyed San Pedro (though wow, it was filled with smelly gringos :) felt like we were back in Berkeley CA). Bought some wonderful woven fabrics at a women's collective in the little town of San Juan (took a tuk-tuk). We skipped San Marcos as I don't need any acupuncture, flower readings, crystals or massage.
And finally: Antigua. Since we were there on a Sunday in Lent, we witnessed a wonderful procession through the town: huge Lenten floats of the Blessed Mother, Jesus, etc. carried by devout people all wearing purple robes. It was quite a sight. We loved the San Francisco church of Hermano Pedro and ruins - what a museum! Santo Domingo is also a sight to behold. That place is insane. Someday when I'm rich...
We stayed in a private room at the Black Cat Inn/hostel which was okay, good breakfast, meh overall. Slightly musty smell, hard beds, but at least they had constant hot water, a cool courtyard and great location. It was filled with silent Spaniards on their iPhone and laptops. Really bizarre! I remember the days when people actually talked to each other at hostels...
Antigua is really wonderful. The architecture and cobbled streets are beautiful. We loved Nim P'ot for anything you want to buy (prints, woven fabric, masks, etc, Dona Luisa for insane baked breads and cookies, and good dinners at La Cuevita de Urquizu and Fonda de la Calle Real where my hubby could finally experience pepian, a local Mayan dish. It's a great place to wander around. We felt safe as long as we took normal precautions. The Ocelot was fun for drinks and backgammon. There are a lot of expats here. We could see why people stay here for a long time...All in all a great trip.
Feb 23, 2013 2:21 PM
Feb 23, 2013 6:13 PM
Feb 24, 2013 8:38 AM
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