Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Panajachel


After the Chichi market, we were driven in our shuttle van to Panajachel (pana-ha-shell).

Pana, as it's called by everyone who's been in Guatemala for more than a day, is one of the most touristy towns in Guatemala. It is the gateway to beautiful Lake Atitlan, and everyone goes there.

Because the Lonely Planet wasn't real high on Pana, we only planned to stay there overnight. After of our experience in Antigua--where we got to the hotel we'd chosen out of the book, late in the afternoon, and it was full--this time we eeny meeny'd from the choices in the Budget category in the Lonely Planet, and picked a hotel ahead of time, and booked it.

The LP guidebook says this about Hospedaje Tzutujil "Down a little alley set among the cornfields, this is one of the best budget deals in town, with clean modern rooms, balconies, and firm beds. Upstairs rooms have fantastic mountain views."

Well, they were right about the cornfields. The rooms weren't bad for $20 a night with a private bath and hot water. The view was so-so. There were no blankets in our room (Ron and Dorothy found theirs in the morning in the bedside table, but we didn't have any). The sheets were very low quality and the pillows were lumpy.

LP also didn't mention that there was a public basketball court next door (see last photo in the album). They played a lively game of basketball, with the whole town in attendance, until about midnight.

The next day, we visited a couple of other places in about the same price range, that had also been on our list. The one we'd come back to next time ended up being moved in the 2007 guide from LP's Budget category to the Moderate category (the price went up to $25/night), was the Hotel Utz Jay. It has very nice rooms, a jacuzzi, a small restaurant on site, a travel agency, and internet access. We didn't check the sheets and pillows, but I would assume they were better.

Note: If you don't like cheap sheets and lumpy pillows (they are endemic to the budget hotels), bring your own.

Lonely Planet says the Sunset Cafe was a 'don't miss'. However, we didn't see much sunset as the afternoon clouds were rolling across the river. But it was a nice view and a nice meal, and there was live music after dinner. (Dave and I were so tired after Chichi and a long day, we opted to head back to our room vs. staying for the music).

We actually did a little more shopping in the morning... I bought a really nice pair of sandals with Guatemalan cloth in the straps.

Next stop: 2 nights at the Hotel Casa del Mundo, on the side of Lake Atitlan.

Pictures of Panajachel http://picasaweb.google.com/SoggyPaws/Panajachel

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