Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Six Nights in Xela

The plan was to spend 6 nights including new Year's Eve in Quetzaltenango, called Xela by the locals, Guatemala's 2nd largest city. We had no trouble finding a value hotel in the city center; in fact, we found two: Casa Renaissance for 3 nights, then Hotel Real Virginia for 3 nights.

We ate very well in Xela - I may have gained a few lbs. Sun-Ling made noodle soup one night using Casa Renaissance's kithen, and then fried noodles for New Year's Eve. We also ate out for Thai food (noodles and a curry), Singaporean food (noodles and a curry), and local vegetarian plates; not to mention daily trips to Comida Taiwanese for chinese "cong you bing" sold as "Chinese Empanada's" by the Taiwanese owners.

The locals celebrate New Year's much like Christmas with church services and fireworks. The center of action in Xela is Parque Centroamérica, with it's neo-classical architecture, street vendors, and church.

In addition to eating and enjoying the New Year festivities we also made 5 excursions:

- By bus to the Monday Market in Zunil

- By bus to the Tuesday Market in Salcaja; then walked to San Andres Excul and its famous yellow church.

- By bus to the Friday Market in San Francisco El Alto

- Bus to San Martin (aka Chili Verde) then a hike up to Lake Chicabal.

- Walked up to the Santa Maria viewpoint and back to town.

Combination of Neo-Classical and Spanish styes in the center of Xela.
Xela (Queztaltenango) - Guatemala

New Year's Eve vendors at Parque Centroamérica.
Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala

The Parque lit up for the holidays.
Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala

The Zunil Weekly Market.
Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala

Great views from the Zunil Cemetery.
Zunil - Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala

Overflow New Year's Day morning service in Salcaja.
Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala

The famous yellow church in San Andres Xecul.
Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala

Arriving for the New Year's Day procession in centro Xela.
Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala

Traditional Masked Dancers lead the procession.
Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala

Both men and women carry the shrine.
Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala

Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala

At the Santa Maria Volcano viewpoint.
Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala

Mayan Altars at Lago Chicabal, a lake in the caldera of Volcan Chicabal.
Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala

The beautiful church at San Francisco El Alto.
San Francisco El Alto, Guatemala

The market at San Franciso El Alto takes up the whole plaza and more, and is very frenetic.
San Francisco El Alto, Guatemala

San Francisco El Alto, Guatemala

Sunset in Xela from our hotel rooftop.
Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala

Cong you bing (Chinese Empanada) from Comida Taiwanesa.
Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala

Singapore-stye food.
Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala

Veggie platters at Cafe Sagrado Corazon.
Cafe Sagrado Corazon - Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala

Traveler's Tip: There is a direct bus from Panajachel to Xela that leaves every morning at 7:15 AM sharp from the lakeside road near the pubic docks to Santiago. We saw this bus from the rooftop of the Hotel Suena Real, but didn't realize where it headed until the duena told us about it. This saved us a kilometer walk up to the main bus stop. Fare is 25Q. Always good to be the first folks on the bus.


Kathy said...

The markets look way cool, but have you actually bought anything? (Other than food.)

Sun-Ling said...

@Kathy, what a good question!

We usually try to participate as much as we can in the markets we visit. But since the bag slashing incident, we have been purchasing our consumables in the stores.

I also try to look for souvenirs in the markets. Very few of the goods targeted for locals catch my eye. The few that caught my eye all priced out at $50+US :( or else I don't know what to do with them.

Mark said...

Great blog entries! Love the pictures. Just want you to know I read every one of these. Hope you are enjoying the trip.

WQZ said...

The yellow church looks like a sampler. Beautiful masks.

Crash Eddy said...

Appears to've been a spectacular 6 days on this tour. NY celebrations, markets, lakes, volcanoes, churches, and, of course, always the food, the FOOD!

john said...

Ed, And to jump ahead, we found a very good vegetarian restaurant at our first stop in Mexico. Stay tuned.

john said...

WQ, Yes it does look like a sampler in the photo, not so much in person.