We Flew to Guatemala City in mid-February, 2013. This is a large city (population ~ 2,000,000) and the capital of Guatemala. (See Location Map) We love to fly into the big Latin American cities, rent a jeep or SUV and head for the countryside. We decided to spend an extra day in the City to look around and see the sights. The toughest part of navigating the roads in any of the Central American countries to is finding your way in and out of the city. This is a lot easier if you have a workable GPS. Unfortunately our GPS was not working and the rental car place did not have one for rent.
We had to take our chances with getting directions at the rental car place to our guest house which was probably 7 to 8 miles away. The verbal directions consisted of something like this in broken English. “Drive 2 kilometers and hit the roundabout, take the 3rd exit off the roundabout at the something park and go 4 kilometers. Do a u turn and come back to the intersection with the flower garden and take your first right, etc etc. We did have a city map which was a big help as well. By knowing a little Spanish and having a road map, we usually can eventually get to where we are going. The key is not to panic in the meantime!
In a city this size away from the tourist areas, it is very difficult to find an English-speaking person so we were pretty much on our own. In case of emergency, we could have always found a taxi and paid the taxi to lead us to the guest house since we had the address written in Spanish (which travelers should always do) Amazingly after about 4 wrong turns and an hour on the road, we found our way to the guest house.
As often happens in big Latin American cities, the guest house was in a very marginal part of town. All parking and guest houses were within heavily locked and usually guarded compounds. After checking in, our host told us how to drive a few blocks to the nearest guarded parking lot. This was also a compound with very large wooden gates that opened up after I yelled at the gate for a few minutes. Inside was a nice family who were in charge of parking and guarding the upscale vehicles that had already checked in. The fee was about $2 USD per night.
This was the road where our guest house was located. I drove down this road to park the car. Our guest house host told us it is safe during the day but be careful at night.
Upon checking in, our hosts served us much needed cervezas in the garden area. I had checked this place out pretty well online and guests had given it high marks so I was not surprised by the high quality of accommodation we got. The gardens were absolutely beautiful. The city is at an elevation of about 5000 feet so despite being in the tropics the temperature got down in the 50s at night and stayed in the low 70s in the day. The vegetation sure liked the year round temperate climate.
This is the area where guests gathered for breakfast in the morning or dinner in the evening. Another area with tables was located immediately adjacent. If you could find the cook, I am sure they would cook you up something about anytime. We met a husband and wife who lived outside London who were in Guatemala for humanitarian reasons. They were assisting with building of homes in the northern part of the country. There was also a family from Australia who were touring the country and I talked to them some at breakfast. Meeting fellow travelers is always interesting because you can learn a little bit about their home country and what made them travel to such an out-of-the-way place as we did!
We walked to the market area which was about a mile from our guest house. This was where the locals went to hang out and have a good time. There were restaurants, museums, churches, stores and street vendors everywhere. There was a lot of well-kept parks and plenty of green space.
These guys played music and we hung out and watched them for a while.
There is some beautiful architecture in Guatemala. A lot of the larger buildings downtown were municipal government buildings, churches and office buildings.