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Trip Report El Salvador Nov 2010

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Just returned from a seven day trip to El Salvador. Was in San Antonio for business, so flew Continental: San Antonio/Houston/San Salvador, then American for San Salvador/LA return. I hadn't flown Continental for quite some time and was APPALLED at the lack of seat space in coach, seat width and leg room. Fortunately, I took advantage of a last minute $60 business class upgrade offer when checking in. So, just flew coach from San Antonio to Houston, and business class for Houston to San Salvador. It was SOOOOO worth the $60.

Really difficult to find accomodation information on the internet; just not a lot out there. So, we stayed at the Decameron resort in Salinitas. All inclusive, including alcohol. Room was simple but spacious, clean, with Direct TV, warm showers and a balcony. Two full beds and a futon couch, plus two chairs and a table. Food was good, not great. Several options provided choices: general buffet dining, plus a steakhouse, a pasta place, and a Thai place which all required advanced reservations. Hamburger shack is open most of the day. Juice, soda and alchohol included. Not your best margartias; stick with the rum punch drinks. Suprema beer was good.

The resort is actually better than it looks on the internet site. It is expansive in size and has three pools. You have a chance to be "in the action" near the bar, in the kid area, or in one of the quieter outlying pools. Also has a disco, which seemed to be well attended, but we just never made it there . Bikes and tennis courts available. The beach is swimmable only at particular times of the day due to tides and the amount of volcanic rock. The far out rocks actually break the heavy surf and make the beach much more user friendly. A separate beach club is available via shuttle, but we passed as we were happy with the water in front of the hotel.

Bottom line on hotel --- GREAT value at $1000 for two adults for a week, all in. However, we did feel captive. You do not leave the resort. It is isolated; no town to walk to, etc. Plus they don't want you leaving the premises. The armed guards at the front gate make sure outsiders stay out and insiders stay in.

Arranged for several day trips throught the hotel's tour desk, Explorer. The best were two: a day in Antigua, Guatemala (beautiful town -- we will go back) and the Volcano and Lake Tour. The third, a 1/2 day tour of three Salvadorian towns, called "Culture and Crafts" was just okay. Could have skipped the first two small towns and spent the whole time in the third town, Ataco. Ataco was beautiful with many restaurants, cafes, and arty shops. Felt very safe as well. The first two towns, not safe and not interesting - Sonsonate and Juayua. A recap of number of armed guards acommpanying us: -0- to Antingua, 1 to volcano/lake, 2 on Culture and Crafts tour. Group sizes were 10 to 15 guests.

At the top of El Boqueron National Park, after a short hike up a path and some stairs, we saw a perfect, up-close view inside the crater. Very cool. Afterwards, a lunch at Cafe San Fernando at the top - awesome views (off main road, up windy road, past town of Miranda). Then onto Highway 10 and a crater top view of Lake Coatepeque, Lake was goregous (reminded me of Lake Tahoe). We may come back a rent one of the houses on stilts. Saw water skiiing happening too. Had a beer for a $1 at a cool bar right at the top of the ridge, swayed in a hammock and listened to guitar seranade.

One note, we did stop by Libertad and Playa Truncal briefly. We had ALMOST booked a hotel there instead of Decameron. Libertad is a destination surf spot. We're usually not all-inclusive kind of people; typically prefering a small hotel or inn. Thank GOD we did not stay in Libertad. It was scary -- during the day! If you're looking to surf, I would recommend looking elsewhere on the coast.

The Salvadoreans were friendly, polite, kind people. We TRULY enjoyed their hospitality. They were delighted to have tourists come to their country. It is a compact, but beautiful place, with lovely people. I hope they are able to turn around the gang situation to improve the overally safety, quality of life and worldwide perception.

Point of reference -- we're in our mid 40s and well travelled beach and adventure lovers. We travelled throughout the world, including most of Central America. My CA favorites remain Costa Rica and Panama.


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