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Something about Xela

Quetzaltenango, one cool city.

semi-overcast 18 °C

After five weeks at one of the most peaceful places we’ve ever visited, Brayden and I landed in Guatemala’s second biggest city, Quetzaltenango. Agh! What a contrast! Traffic, noise, crowds and a chilly climate – our sense of zen quickly evaporated. But as we soon discovered, while Quetzaltengo is no Lake Atitlan, it’s got a lot going for it.

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— Quetzaltenango, home to 160 thousand people.

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— The city is situated in a mountain valley at an altitude of 7,500 feet.

When you visit Quetzaltenango, or Xela as it’s known by everybody (that’s Shell-ah) you get a sense of the ‘real’ Guatemala. It’s not exactly bursting with attractions but there’s definitely enough here to satisfy for a few days. Mind you it’s also the kind of place some backpackers stay for years on end, attracted by the hundreds of volunteering projects on offer. As a result the city is brimming with all sorts of trendy bars, cafes and restaurants filled with expats discussing social justice over fair trade coffee.

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— Municipalidad (Town hall).

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— Inside the Municipalidad.

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— This Cathedral looks out onto the Parque Central. The guys out front are selling granita (shaved ice topped with syrup).

Just out of the city are these gorgeous hot springs, Fuentes Georginas. The pools range from warmish to blistering and all look out onto volcanoes and lush vegetation. It’s a strange sensation to have an icy breeze blowing on your face while everything from the neck down is stewing.

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— The pools are heated by the Zunil Volcano.

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— Channeling my inner mermaid.

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— It takes about 30 minutes to get to Fuentes Georginas and you past a host of indigenous villages.

Another highlight is XelaPan. If heaven has a smell, it would smell like this bakery franchise. Here’s how it works: you arm yourself with a pair of tongs and fill up your basket with all sorts of pastries, sweet breads and cakes. It’s so cheap, it’s practically free. A flakey, buttery croissant for 25 cents? How about a delicate French tart for 50 cents? Most days we’d buy our lunch here and eat it in the city’s impressive Parque Central. For dinner, we’d hit the city’s happening restaurant scene, where the food is delicious, cheap and often accompanied by live music.

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— Spoilt for choice in XelaPan.

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— Almost as exciting are these lolly men who wonder the streets with their cart of candy...preying on people like me.

Hard to believe we’ve been in Guatemala for two and half months now. Tomorrow we’ll cross the border into Mexico. I’m so looking forward to it I can barely sleep!

Posted by elyshahickey 21:53 Archived in Guatemala Tagged food culture city guatemala xela colonial quetzaltenango

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Lysh! Your blog kills me! Returning from London to dull, static life here only to have to watch you trail blazing through my dream destinations is nothing but torturous. But I cant help it. Im addicted. I shall continue to live vicariously through you and your amazing adventures. Call me a self harmer. Meh! Keep the updates coming lovely and hope its everything you NEVER imagined! Lots of love xx

by Tara

Granita, lollies, pastries, hot pools... what ever happened to the watery soup and fasting? Dadxxx

by robert

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