A glimpse of El Salvador, Part I

I will be featuring my country, El Salvador, in a few of my next posts. When travelers go to the region, they tend to skip El Salvador. Known as the “pinkie” of Central America, my country is full of natural beauty and culture.

This post features the popular “Ruta de las Flores”, a collection of five scenic towns known for its mountains, flowering coffee plants and unique arts and crafts. The towns are located a few kilometres from each other and can be easily accessed from the main highway.

1. Nahuizalco

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An indigenous town, Nahuizalco is known for its unique handicrafts. Explore the night market, where stalls are lit by candle only.

2. Salcoatitan

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This village housed El Salvador’s first coffee plantations back in 1860. If you enjoy outdoor activities, Salcoatitan is a great town offering mountain biking trails. Click here for trail recommendations between the Ruta de las Flores towns.

Park and Restaurant La Colina

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La Colina was founded in 1996, offering its guests food, recreation and cabins for accommodation.  You will find some of the most typical Salvadoran dishes in a cozy atmosphere and natural surroundings.

3. Juayua

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Also known as the City of the Red Orchids due to the abundant number of this flower in the mountains, Juayua has a rich historical background.

One of the tours which is impossible to miss is the route of the 7 waterfalls, which takes approximately 5 hours to complete. The tourist office can offer you further information and can lend you rappel equipment for the waterfalls.

4. Apaneca

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If you want a picturesque view of the coffee plantations, take the Apaneca Canopy tour.  Don’t miss out on the beautiful lagoons, particularly Laguna Verde and Laguna de Ninfas.

5. Concepcion de Ataco

Known for the peacefulness of its mountains and vivid colors, a couple of days are ideal to wander through the market and walk the pebbled roads. Ataco houses some of El Salvador’s most unique art.

Casa San Antonio

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This beautiful two-floored house in the heart of Ataco is a good accommodation option for 12 guests.

Attack Oh Burgers!

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This new burger joint was opened in 2013 and is already the talk of town. Offering artisanal burgers, chef Oscar Pena has applied his knowledge gained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris to bring to El Salvador an exquisite food venture.

 

8 Markets Not To Miss in London

Markets are a characteristic trait of London. There are many different ones to explore throughout the city and are great for wandering around during the weekend. Below are my recommendations of the ones you shouldn’t miss out on:

1. Borough Market

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Highly popular Borough market is great for a lunch bite or grocery shopping. You can find all kinds of fresh produce, meats, baked goods, condiments and specialized ingredients.

Although there are a quite a few food establishments in the market, I suggest eating from the food carts which are lined up on the side of the market. You can get anything from oysters to Argentine empanadas.

2. Portobello Road Market

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Also known as Notting Hill market, Portobello Road has been a market since the 1800s. It is popular for its antiques but you can find anything from groceries to vintage clothes, cool posters and used clothes.

I love having a coffee or a glass of wine here. Another great recommendation is visiting the Electric, one of the oldest working cinemas in the UK. The seats are leather couches with foot rests and you can get cocktails, beers and snacks before the movie starts. Isn’t this a great combination?!

3. Columbia Road Flower Market

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I must admit this market was a late discovery but one I quickly grew fond of. Columbia Road market offers a plethora of plants and flowers in East London. It’s surrounding shops offer gardening tools too.

A tip is to go later in the afternoon around 2pm as prices are slashed up to half! There are some great deals, whether you want a bunch of flowers or a larger potted plant.

4. Covent Garden

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In the middle of central London lies Covent Garden, located in the iconic Market Building. You can stroll down the stalls and watch live performers around the plaza. Just recently Paul McCartney played an impromptu concert in Covent Garden. The multi-city event Diner en Blanc also organized their first ever London dinner in this plaza, which I was fortunate to attended.

As it’s centrally located, you can do your shopping around the area, grab lunch or coffee in Covent Garden and stroll the market stalls whilst at the same time, do some people watching.

5. Old Spitalfields Market

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Known for its independent designer stalls, here you can find anything from unique clothing items to art and food. After having shopped and eaten, head over to the clubs and bars in Shoreditch which are just down the road.

I loved the diversity of designers I found in this market. After having moved out of Argentina, I met an Argentine jewelry maker who I bought a gorgeous necklace from. Similarly, you find fashion students and independent artists selling their unique designs.

6. Camden Market

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Camden market offers about 100 shops and stalls throughout. This market has an alternative feel to it and you can find a mix of vintage, funky and emerging designer fashion.

Don’t miss out on visiting the Cyberdog store, which is a unique shop that offers futuristic and fluorescent fashion at the beat of trance music in the background.

7. Brixton Village Market

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This is the ultimate place for eating on a budget in South London. There are a vast number of small restaurants offering Thai food, one of the best oven pizzas in the UK, hand made Chinese dumplings and more.

Nothing beats a Sunday lunch at Brixton Village Market, where you can go food hopping from one small joint to the other with a small group of friends.

8. Brick Lane Market

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Last but not least, Brick Lane market spreads across various streets in East London. Here you can find all kinds of vintage clothes, second hand furniture and anything else you can imagine!

I love eating here, particularly Indian food as it’s London’s largest and most famous enclave of Indian eateries. I would also suggest stopping by a shisha bar for a break.

What other markets in London do you like?