Wednesday, April 29, 2009 2:56 PM
Guatemala Road Trip - Flores
Having just suffered through the agonizing trip from Atitlan to Rio Dulce, the scant four hours to Flores seemed like a hop, skip and a jump to us. The drive was easy and uneventful and we arrived in Flores earlier than expected with plenty of sunlight hours to walk through the town. Flores is pretty and very well kept, the homes all painted in varying shades of soft pastels.
The causeway going across from Santa Elena to Flores
Surrounded on all sides by Lake Peten Itza, the lake itself is the main focus of this island. The east side boasts a spotless malecon and the west is lined with lovely little hotels and restaurants poised to take advantage of spectacular sunset views. We had planned to stay at La Casona de la Isla, one of smaller charming boutique hotels on Calle 30 de junio but this street and several other main roads through the village were being torn up so we ended up at the only "luxury" property on the island, Gran Hotel de la Isla, sort of the Holiday Inn of Flores. It was a bit cheesy for my taste and the staff acted as if we were their first guests....EVER....but the pool was nice and the interior walls of the hotel were covered with colorful murals depicting the ruins at Tikal and many of the Mayan gods, all described in Itza, Spanish and English. Cute.
After quickly checking in, we walked down the block and found a nice place on the lake for a drink and a snack. We sat and chatted with a nice couple from Amsterdam who were traveling through Guatemala, Belize and Mexico and swapped travel tips and impressions of the places we had seen. With an hour or so until sunset, we went off to explore the town and find a place to settle in for dinner and enjoy the views over the lake.
Cocktails and naranjadas at Raices Restaurant
Looking west to Santa Elena
Catholic Church of Flores
Learning to play the Marimba at a local music school.
After perusing the various dining options of the west side of the island we settled on Villa del Chef, a small inn and restaurant owned and operated by a German couple who had immigrated to Flores. The menu was a mix of guatemaltecan specialities, includng the local fish "El Blanco", and Arabic-Mediterranean cuisine and was a nice break from grilled meats and sausages. Passing on the nifty after dinner water pipes offered, we headed back to the hotel for a late night swim and tucked in early, excited to spend our last day in Guatemala exploring its most famous ruins, the ancient Mayan city of Tikal.
Villa del Chef
Ready for dinner, our last in Guatemala
Gorgeous sunset over Lake Peten Itza
Tomorrow, the ruins at Tikal and the trek back home.