A Travellerspoint blog

December 2011

Tikal - Part 2 - More Pictures!


View World Trip 2012 - Actual on dariusz's travel map.

Today is Christmas Day and in Antigua Guatemala that means the city is asleep until at least noon and it gives me plenty of time to add another blog entry. It turns out the Guatemalan's celebrate Christmas Eve by having a family meal at midnight which is then followed by Christmas gift giving. It's no surprise then that no one is really awake in the morning.

We have so many photos and videos to share with you guys that it's hard to choose what to post next but I thought maybe some more pictures from Tikal would be fun

Click here to view a slideshow of the pictures on Picasa

Posted by dariusz 08:18 Archived in Guatemala Tagged ruins guatemala mayan tikal Comments (1)

Merry Christmas to all our Family and Friends!

Although we're away this Christmas, the love we feel from our family friends can be felt from across the continent!

Posted by krisses 09:25 Archived in Guatemala Comments (3)

Pacaya - Climbing the active volcano near Antigua Guatemala


View World Trip 2012 - Actual on dariusz's travel map.

Today we climbed an active Volcano which apparently erupted just this past May. You can still see the burned out corn fields and vegetation in the video and pictures. If I sound winded in the video its only because I ran to get ahead of Kristine to shoot the video... really... no other reason AT ALL

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Posted by dariusz 16:57 Archived in Guatemala Tagged volcano guatemala hike climb pacaya antigua Comments (1)

Delicious and Cheap, how to eat while travelling on a budget

Part 1 - to be continued as we have many more pictures!


View World Trip 2012 - Actual on dariusz's travel map.

The key to eating well while not blowing all your money is to avoid tourist traps. Tourist traps are these restaurants that offer mediocare food in very touristy areas. They survive on the fact that tourists have no idea how much things cost and will pay way above market price for the area. They only need to get a few to make it all worthwhile. How does one identify a tourist trap? Well there are a number of things you can look for:

1) When you look at the clientele does it remind you too much of home? If you don't see any locals eating it's probably a tourist trap.
2) Is there a guy in a sombrero or a poncho or some other stereotypical garb standing in front of it inviting you in? Are there way too many flags in front of the place? If the local ethnicity is hyped up too much then it's most likely not trying to appeal to the locals. Think about it.
3) Is it very near or even in front of a major tourist attraction or hang out spot? I've rarely eaten a good meal in any of those areas.
4) Does everyone in the place speak fluid English and do they have English ONLY menus? self explanatory I think.

The best places are the ones a bit out of the way. The ones that look like someones home, that don't have an English menu at all, and that are packed full with locals even on a weekday.

There are also those rare restaurants where rules #1, #3 or #4 above do not apply because they are so good that they are popular with both locals and tourists (notice #2 always applies though). However those are generally not budget places, and much research is necessary to make sure you don't end up in a tourist trap where you pay premium price for crappy food.

I'm not saying we always follow the above rules, but generally when we stray, we end up regretting it. Here are some of the wonderful places we've eaten at and some of the lip smacking food.

Charlies in Tulum
I don't remember the exact prices but I don't think we ever spent more than $40 for a dinner here.

These photos are from breakfast. Yes, that is MELTED CHEESE in that bowl.... mmmmm
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Home made nacho chips
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Jalapeno peppers stuffed with Cheese and deep fried
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El Asadero in Tulum
This next place is called El Asadero and I think it was a bit more expensive (by that I mean $60 MAX for both of us, probably less though), however it was recommended by a local, and just look at the sauces and the beef tacos. OMG soo good makes me salivate looking at the pictures. Place was filled to the brim with locals on a Thursday evening.

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As if the tacos weren't enough. That's Chorizo with some more melted cheese. I think it was a combo of a bunch of different cheeses mmmmm
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El Mirador in Flores
I'm not 100% sure of the name but this little place on top of the hill in Flores Guatemala, right by the basketball court, was absolutely amazing. It way out of the touristy area and it has a set lunch buffet where you get to pick 1 meat and a few other things. The cost was less than $10 for the BOTH of us.

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The next day we splurged and we went to a more upscale but very well reviewed (thanks TripAdvisor!) restaurant closer to the touristy area. The fish I got was amazing! They call it "Pescado Blanco" which translated to simply "White Fish" but its a local fish from the Peten Itza lake and its DELICIOUS. They stuff some types of leaves under the gills and then fry the crap out of it and it comes out super moist and delicious. The fish was 100 Q's or approx $13.

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Market vendor in Lanquin

This was the ultimate cheap eats. We got this tasty chicken with like 3 different sauces on it and fries from a vendor at the local market for 5 Quetzales. That is less than 1 dollar!

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Posted by dariusz 12:35 Tagged food mexico guatemala belize cheap good tulum flores lanquin Comments (3)

Keeping track of Budget and other boring stuff


View World Trip 2012 - Actual on dariusz's travel map.

We did a bit of a check today to see if we should maybe be planning to be back by Easter, because we will run out of money, rather than in August as planned. As it turns out we are actually just a bit over budget and there are some good explanations on why we went a bit over (Just to be clear, this means we're good to go until August!). The original estimate of the first 20 days of our trip, including the flight out, was $3,190 for both of us total while the actual cost was $3,450. This means we are about $250 over budget, however when we did our estimates we forgot to take into account the increased costs of the Christmas season. The $3,450 figure includes Christmas presents and also the increased rates that hotels charge during this season.

The good news is that we originally planned to fly from Belize to Nicaragua, which would have been $300 each, while we are now going to be taking a bus from Antigua Guatemala to Managua for only $100 each. This means that we should hopefully be back under budget by next week. The bad news is that we are likely to go right back over budget shortly after. The Nicaragua budget per day for both of us is $70 which would normally be very possible, but unfortunately during the Christmas break and New Years all hotel rates double. This means that instead of paying $30 a night for a room we will be paying $60 that week. This leaves only $10 per day for everything else which is clearly impossible. However, I'm sure in the end it will all even out.

I also wanted to put the $3,450 figure in perspective. That's approx. $600 per person per week. This is less than even the cheapest Cuba all-inclusive you can find. Let's also remember that this $600 includes ALL excursions, trips, meals, drinks, presents, transportation and accommodations. I am also pretty sure the food we're eating is better than all but the most expensive resorts. I love backpacking :)

Posted by dariusz 20:21 Archived in Guatemala Tagged travel budget planning cost Comments (5)

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