Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

After some research that said Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, was a university town where students frequented coffee shops, I decided to spend a few days there. It sounded relaxing! I like students, universities and coffee shops 馃檪

Hotel Hamilton

I chose Hotel Hamilton because it was close to the main plaza, it was highly recommended, and it was below my budget! It turned out to be really nice. The room was basic but the TV had a couple of English channels.

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The compound was very secure for my motorcycle.

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The grounds had nice green grass and a roaming rabbit.

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And there was a little outdoor lounge where I spent time on my computer and relaxing.

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The Streets of Quetzaltenango

After walking around the city I really didn’t see it as a university town. It looked more like an industrial town to me with little pockets of peace.

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Parque a Centro Am茅rica

The main place of peace was the Parque a Centro Am茅rica. It is the main plaza in the historic center of town.

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Queque-plaza

Of course the church, Catedral Del Espiritu Santo, is the main building bordering the plaza.

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But the whole plaza lacked some vibrancy. I think it was because there were no patios around the plaza where people could gather, eat and drink, and watch people. The closest to this was a bar where I had to look through a gate.

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Just up from the plaza was another little refuge, the town theater.

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Guatemalan Police

My big entertainment one afternoon is watching the police check a bunch of young people gathered in the center of the main plaza.

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Coffee Shops

One of my rituals is to find a nice coffee shop in the morning for breakfast and to work on posts and answer emails. The only thing around the main plaza was Cafe Barista.

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It is a chain coffee shop that attempts to mimic Starbucks. A poor mimic I might add 馃檪 It was OK but I just didn’t feel comfortable there.

Tripadvisor recommended La Chatia Artesana. It was a bit of a walk from my hotel but I didn’t really mind. It was a good opportunity to explore the city more.

When I first walked in I thought huuuummmm …. not really my kind of place.

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They didn’t have the chocolate croissant I wanted 馃檨 So I ordered fruit and yogurt instead. Probably a better choice anyways.

When my fruit and yogurt came it was huge … and very delicious!

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Now I was hooked ha ha. The staff turned out to be really nice and for the rest of my time in Quetzaltenango, this was my go to place for my morning ritual.

Restuarants

I really didn’t see any good restaurants for a single person in the city. For me that usually means there has to be a patio or good people watching or some sort of entertainment. I don’t like sitting in a closed in restaurant by myself with nothing to do.

There was street food, but I’m not much of a street food person. A bit of a cleanliness freak I guess ha ha.

So I decided to go cheap with fast food restaurants.

I saw something in Quetzaltenango that I haven’t seen since the US …..

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The place was PACKED with locals. Hard to believe actually. But I guess they want to be part of western culture rather than take part in their own taco culture.

The other fast food joint that was packed was McDonalds. The one by the university was big and had the ordering kiosks. The place was filled with families, people in suits, gatherings …. very popular.

I hate there a couple of times too.

Quetzaltenango

The longer I stayed the more Quetzaltenango grew on me … my morning coffee shop … the hotel … the roughness of the streets all ended up to be nice. When you spend a few days in one spot it starts to grow on you 馃檪 You start to experience the rhythm of the town. But it was time to leave.

My Route to Quetzaltenango on May 17, 2017

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My Location from May 18 to 21, 2017

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Cool San Crist贸bal de las Casas, Mexico

Time to ride to San Crist贸bal de las Casas for some cool weather. San Crist贸bal is in the mountains and the weather forecasts showed mid 20s Celsius. Perfect! But they also showed rain everyday 馃檨 I debated staying in Palenque longer to avoid the rain. But there seemed no way to avoid it. The best time to ride there was the day I planned.

Now … I don’t mind riding in the rain if I have to. But why would I if I don’t have to? It is harder to enjoy the sights and ride in the rain. I have no deadlines or places I HAVE to be, so it would serve no point to ride in the rain.

To get to San Crist贸bal I had to ride the same route I took on the tour. A lot nicer riding it though. And after the exit to Cascadas de Agua Azul the road got better. Also the weather got cooler too. No rain yet though.

As I was riding I saw a group of women in white putting out things to sell. I also spotted a small store. I decided to stop for a break.

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With the break done it was onto my hotel.

Parador Margarita Hotel

I made it to the Parador Margarita Hotel and no rain! I had a hard time finding the hotel at fist as it is tucked into a narrow one way street.

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The courtyard to the registration was a refuge.

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No English spoken here but I managed to register with my broken Spanish. They put me on the 3rd floor which meant lugging my luggage up a flights of stairs.

The patio was awesome and I would spend time there just relaxing.

hotel patio

But my room on the third floor was just as relaxing!

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hotel hall to my room

hotel view from my room

One free breakfast came with the hotel. It wasn’t your ordinary stale croissant breakfast.

hotel coffee

The hotel was a bit over my budget, but well worth it. Very relaxing for the 11 nights I would be there.

The only downside was that the WiFi always went on and off. I went to the office lots to get them to fix it or reboot the router.

With my home base established it was time to explore the town over the next week or so.

Carajillo Slow Coffee

The first thing I like to do is find my morning coffee spot where I plan my day, write posts, and looks at emails and messages. I found the perfect spot in Carajillo Slow Coffee. Awesome food, lots of different kinds of coffee, and reliable and strong internet with electrical plugs.

Carajillo

working Carajilllo

It wasn’t long before the staff got to know me. They greeted me with a smile, knew my order, and some would start up a conversation with me. It was my home.

Real de Guadeluope, Avenue 20 Noviembre and Miguel Hidalgo

Real de Guadeluope, Avenue 20 Noviembre and Miguel Hidalgo are the main tourist walking streets in the town. They all meet at the Plaza on March 31 – Zocalo. Very cool walking.

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street looking at hill church

Guadalupe street

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As I walked the streets I could have easily been mistaken into believing that there was a Rastafarian convention taking place in the town. So many people with dreadlocks, piercings, balloon pants, tattoos, and carrying bongos or a guitar. Some would be selling trinkets on the street.

selling trinkets

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While others would play their instruments for money.

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Iglesia De Guadalupe

I had a few places I wanted to see in town. One of then was the Iglesia De Guadalupe. It was a bit of a walk up hill at the end of Real de Guadeluope Street.

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And a few stairs to walk up.

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But it was worth it. A nice church.

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Catedral de San Crist贸bal and Iglesia de San Nicol谩s

Right at the center of town are 2 churches, Catedral de San Crist贸bal and Iglesia de San Nicol谩s. The Catedral de San Crist贸bal is the main church.

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inside plaza church

inside plaza church

Iglesia de San Nicol谩s is an old church with trees growing from it.

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old church at plaza

inside old plaza church

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It wasn’t open very much but I did manage to get inside once when it was.

Iglesia Santo Domingo

Iglesia Santo Domingo is a church a few blocks from the center of town. It was actually difficult to find as I walked through the busy streets towards it.

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I finally saw the top of the church but it was surrounded by stalls selling everything imaginable.

old church market

It took a while of wandering through the market to find the entrance.

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The doors appeared to be locked so I walked back to the main center by taking some other streets.

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La Vi帽a de Bacco

For dinner I usually try different places and attempt to keep my food budget in tact, like this pizza place 馃檪

Pizza Dinner on Guadalupe street 4

After a few days though I found such a good place for the single traveler – La Vi帽a de Bacco. The reason it is good for singles is that it is on the street where you can people watch. Also, because it is so popular, the singers and bands gravitate there, so there is entertainment too. Lastly, they serve mostly tapas and wine so you can just lounge there.

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Such good food.

The only problem is that is is busy and people linger there for hours. So a few times I wasn’t able to get a seat outside. When that happened I settled on the restaurant next door where there was always a seat outside ha ha.

Cipro

Ever since Cuba I have had an upset stomach. Nothing serious, just cramping mostly. But it was irritating and wouldn’t go away. I was also feeling a bit down. Not sure if it was related or not.

Anyways, I had brought some Cipro with me for just such a thing. But I didn’t want to use it all up. I learned while I was in Oaxaca that the pharmacies are pretty lax in dishing out what would be prescription drugs back home. So I went the the pharmacy in San Cristabol and asked for Cipro. No problem!

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Rain

I mentioned that rain was in the forecast every day. It was weird weather. The mornings would be clear and the afternoons would cloud over. Despite forecasting rain everyday, it only rained once in the evening for a bit. And some thunder and lightening too. No one seemed to care. The rain ended soon. I learned to ignore the clouds and forecast.

Where to Next

San Cristabol is an awesome place. Lots of restaurant and good people watching. And the weather was cool. But where should I go next? I thought about heading back to Oaxaca to see some sights I had missed there, and then ride to Puerto Escondido before entering Guatemala. That would be another 3 weeks. But I was starting to feel the itch to move on. The rider I had traveling Alaska with had already been to the tip of Argentina and had shipped his bike back to the US and was riding there. A couple who I was so close to meeting up with in Mexico were now in India after reaching the tip of Argentina!!!

The other issue for me was that my left fork seal was weeping. I am not a mechanic at all and can’t fix anything. For sure my Achilles heal. For that reason, I like to do lots of maintenance and take care of things as soon as I see a problem. The closest BMW Mottorad was in Guatemala City. I know …. I could go to a generic mechanic … but I am weird that way in that I like to have my maintenance done at Mottorads whenever possible.

For those reasons I decided to ride into Guatemala.

My Route on May 4, 2017

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My Location from May 5 to May 14, 2017

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Hotel Club Atlantico in Havana, Cuba

After a week in Merida, Mexico, it was time to fly off to Havana, Cuba where I would stay at the Hotel Club Atlantico.

Planning to go to Cuba

While on the Yucatan peninsula I wanted to take an excursion to one of the nearby islands. My choices were Cuba, Haiti or Jamaica. Everyone I talked to said to go to Cuba. So that is where I would go 馃檪

Most people who go to Cuba save up for the vacation and enjoy themselves at a nice hotel or an all inclusive. For me though, this trip is everyday life. The nice part is that it is everyday life for me ? The bad part is that I have an everyday type budget for the trip and not a vacation budget. I can鈥檛 afford a $200 a night hotel as I would on a vacation. Just think about it, that would be like spending $6000 a month in rent or mortgage payment. Far outside my pension bracket. Great for a vacation, but not for everyday living.

I decided I wanted to be close to Havana to sight see rather than choosing a beach vacation location like Veradero. I can sit on a breach or by a pool for a day or two but that鈥檚 my limit.

Expedia and Booking.com didn鈥檛 provide many options for Cuba. I found Interjet Vacations, a Mexican company, that had lots of variety.

Choosing the hotel on my limited budget was the hard part. The hotels downtown Havana were either too expensive or dives, at least according to Tripadvisor ratings. There were cheaper hotels in the outskirts but not within walking distance to downtown. I didn鈥檛 want the added expense of taking a taxi everyday. Plus the hotels weren鈥檛 rated very high.

Finally I found the Hotel Club Atlantico. It was on the outskirts but the offered a free daily shuttle downtown. And the ratings were quite good. I booked it for a week.

Flying to Havana

Havana-flight

The Interjet flight to Havana was practically empty.

I wasn鈥檛 sure what to expect when I landed in Cuba.

Havana-airport

From the photos of buildings and the old cars I knew they were a poor country. On the other hand, I had also seen pictures of people having fun at beautiful hotels and pools by nice beaches and turquoise water.

The Havana airport was not that nice and not well organized ha ha. But that is OK, they are a poor country. One of the first things I saw that was different ….. realize now that I am a man ha ha ha …. was that many of the female custom agents were wearing short skirts with fancy nylons. No pictures cuz I didn’t want to feel like a perv ha ha.

After passing through immigration my first project was to get Cuban currency. There were 2 exchanges outside the terminal. Both had huge lineups.

Havana-airport-currency-exchange

I waited for over a hour! Most of the movement didn鈥檛 come from people being served but rather people leaving the lineup upon the convincing of taxi drivers that they would stop somewhere along the way to their hotel to exchange money.

After finally getting money I caught a taxi for 50 CUC to my hotel. The Cuban currency for tourist, CUC, is equivalent to the US dollar. The locals have their own currency.

Hotel Club Atlantico

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Remember that I mentioned the hotel was rated fairly high for my price range? Well, I am guessing the rating were based on Cuban standards. I did read in a lot of comments that you have to remember you are in Cuba ha ha.

The hotel itself is pretty run down. When I first arrived there was no water. The staff said that is because the water truck hadn鈥檛 arrived yet. Huuuummmmm

And I found out there is no Wifi at the hotel. Although for 2 CUC a hour I could use one of their two computers.

A couple days into the trip we had heavy rains. The hotel had leaks everywhere. Luckily not my room ?

The hotel is an all-inclusive, including alcohol! So that was a bonus. The meals though were not that great. But then Cuba is not known for its cuisine. Plus, I am a picky eater. I ate mostly rice, beans and potatoes. The potatoes were actually awesome.

After a walk around the hotel neighbourhood, I discovered it is truly in the middle of no where. No grocery stores or restaurants to speak of. Just beaches and some homes. 馃檨 The hotel had a store but it only had alcohol,….

Atlantico-store-havana-club

crackers, a couple of chocolate bars, and ice cream.

Throughout my stay at the hotel there were a lot of school groups staying there. Two from Canada. Perfect for them – nothing around – all inclusive – buffet – pool and beach – and close to Havana.

There were some positives though. They did have English TV channels, free shuttle to downtown, all-inclusive, nice rooms, a pool, and a beach.

Atlantico-room

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Atlantico-pool

I hate to think what the hotels were like that were rated low! It made me glad I picked a higher rated hotel. There were a couple nice hotels in Havana but just not within my non-vacation budget.

My Route for April 20, 2017

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My Hotel Location from April 20 to April 26, 2017

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Rainey Creek Campground – Stewart, BC, Canada

Rainy Creek Campground is a heavily treed campground with nice grass/moss for tenting. It is a great value at $15 Cdn per night. It is located at:

Rainey Creek Campground
8th Avenue, Stewart BC V0T 1W0
Telephone: 250-636-2537
Website: http://districtofstewart.com/parks-recreation/rainey-creek-municipal-park/

The washrooms were clean with hot showers. However, they cost a dollar for about 5 minutes. It cost me 2 dollars with time to spare. The one minor issue is that the campsite is a long rectangle with the tenting area at one end and the washrooms at the other. However, there are outhouses at the tenting area if you just can鈥檛 hold it.

Rainy鈥檚 advertises wi-fi but when I was there it was not working. Apparently the satellite dish was blown out of alignment.

It cost me $15 Cdn dollars.

There is no restaurant or food store on site. But it is a relatively short walk downtown for something to eat or get groceries.

The campsite is situated by houses so it is not a total wilderness experience.

The Rainey Creek Campground attendant recommended the Glacier Inn in Hyder to eat. You need to ride there. I went there but there wasn’t a soul around. So I headed back into Stewart and ate at the King Edward Hotel.

One thing of note. There is only one gas station in town and it opens at 7:30 and closes at 8 pm.

I would recommend the campsite as an inexpensive place to stay while in Stewart.

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Brookside Campground – Cache Creek, Canada

After a short ride from Kamloops to Cache Creek, I went to the Brookside Campground for the night – July 3, 2016.

Brookside Campsite
1621 East Trans Canada Hwy
Cache Creek, BC V0K 1H0, Canada
Phone: 250-457-6633
Email: info@brooksidecampsite.com
Website: http://brooksidecampsite.com/
GPS: N50鈦47.620′ W121鈦18.483′

An excellent find and awesome value for $20 Cdn per night. Here are the stats:

  1. Exceptionally clean washrooms with hot showers
  2. Internet throughout the campground
  3. Grass plots for your tent
  4. Warm swimming pool
  5. Five minute ride to Cache Creek for restaurants and stores
  6. Laundry Facilities

It is close to the road so you can hear traffic noises. But otherwise it is awesome.I had a great sleep and talked to fellow bikers also staying there. Check out the pictures.

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