Cafe Virtual, an internet place we used briefly, is just one expample of the modernity that you'll experience in Guatemala City's Zone 10. Walking around this part of town, you'll see BMW car dealerships, sushi houses and lots of posh looking people with cell phones and PDAs. Is this the real Guatemala? Well, yes and no. It shows that not all people here growing coffee or weaving huipiles all day and then again, it's not exactly representative of the rest of the country.
Some "Swiss" flavour
At only 20 minutes away from Guatemala City, up in the mountains on the road to the Colonial City of Antigua Cabaña Suiza Complex is located at 5,900 feet high over sea level (1,900 mts.) and aside from a natural atmosphere known like a one of the best climates in the world; it’s a Swiss family-run descendent establishment.
It's a real Swiss Café in Guatemala that offers a Select variety of original Swiss pastry and Swiss gourmet, also options of healthy and natural food, and a piece of local specialties with the accent on the Swiss culinary style under high standard of quality.
On the west side of the Parque Central is the ultramodern Biblioteca Nacional contrasting the colonial architecture of the Palace and Cathedral on the other side of the plaza. The library is built on the former site of the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales.
The Highlights of Guatemala City
At first glance, Guatemala City appears frustratingly disorganized and wholly uninviting. If you enter this city by bus, you’ll soon be lead to believe that this urban agglomeration that is the home to roughly 4,000,000 people has exactly one street, because traffic in Guatemala City is absolutely ridiculous. During one extremely long trip from Xela to the Salvadoran border, it took my wife and I more than three hours to cross from one side of Guatemala City to the other, and this seems to be the norm, not the exception.
Another pet peeve that bears mentioning is the fact that, in an attempt to avoid the traffic that keeps Guatemala City’s main streets tied up day and night, many motorcyclists think nothing of driving on the sidewalks. Often at considerable speed. Keep your eyes open to avoid getting run over.
That said, if you end up having to spend a few days in Guatemala City, as I had to do in September 2005, there are just enough interesting places to allow for an enjoyable stay. Near the airport, the National Crafts Market, the Aurora Zoo, and the National Museum of Modern Art can all be taken in over the course of a leisurely afternoon. The city center is home to a handful of interesting buildings, and the central park is a good place to people-watch on the weekends.
Guatemala City, the present-day capital of Guatemala, certainly can’t compete with its colonial era predecessor, Antigua Guatemala, when it comes to the quantity of interesting churches, but it is home to a few (including the Iglesia San Francisco, the Iglesia Yurrita, and the church of the Parroquia de los Remedios) that are worthy of a visit.
One of the few spots of green remaining in Central America’s largest concrete jungle, the Botanical Garden at the Universidad de San Carlos is a nice spot to spend an hour or two breathing in some relatively fresh air and getting acquainted with some of the plant life that calls Guatemala home.