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Impressions of San Salvador

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Surrounded by volcanoes and guarded by a huge lake with crystal-clear water, the capital of the smallest country in Central America boasts an active cultural life, a priceless culinary heritage, and highly attractive shopping opportunities.

The capital of El Salvador was founded in 1525 at the foot of Quezaltepeque volcano as a small Spanish town that came under the Captaincy General of Guatemala.

Situated in “Hammocks Valley”, a region so called because of its high levels of seismic activity, today it is one of the most attractive Central American cities for tourists, wherever in the world they might come from.

One of the barometers used for reaching this conclusion is its bustling commercial activity. The city boasts, for example, a varied range of malls, such as Plaza Mundo in the eastern Soyapango district, which will shortly be the starting point for the first Metrobus route. Then there are Metrocentro, which is more central and was the first in the country and the region because it opened its doors more than 40 years ago; and, of course, more modern ones. In this latter category is Galerías, situated near the monument to the Divine Savior of the World in Colonia Escalón. In the west of the city, in the area near Santa Tecla, are Multiplaza and La Gran Vía.

Start eating pupusas!
San Salvador offers a varied cuisine that will satisfy the most demanding palate, from fast food to international delicacies to typical Salvadorian dishes. The best restaurants are in the west, in the Zona Rosa district in San Benito, and also in the booming, exclusive Santa Elena area –where the American Embassy and the Avianca headquarters are located– and in the south western part of the city, which comes under Antiguo Cuscatlán. Places to eat also exist in the modern, exclusive Plaza Futura, in Colonia Escalón on the western outskirts of the city.

A number of international food chains, including Bennigan’s and Ruth’s Chris, have outlets in San Salvador, and there are additionally numerous gourmet options with a Salvadorian flavor. Examples include A Lo Nuestro or wholly-traditional restaurants such as Típicos Margoth, where the opportunity should not be missed to taste the finest local dish, pupusas, which are corn tortillas traditionally filled with cheese as well as with a range of different ingredients. These and other Salvadorian dishes can also be found in more informal settings in the town of Antiguo Cuscatlán or in Los Planes de Renderos, where the weather and views alike are delightful. This latter is in the south, 20 minutes from the city.

Two attractions: culture and nightlife
To get a detailed insight into Salvadorian history, there’s nothing like a fairly lengthy visit to the National Museum of Anthropology (MUNA), whereas if it’s aesthetic attractions you’re looking for, you should head for the Art Museum (MARTE). There are also symphony concerts at the National Theater, in the historic center, and seasons of plays throughout the year at Luis Poma Theater, in Metrocentro, arranged by the Poma business group.

Bars and discotheques in “Sanzibar”, the name some people use to refer colloquially to San Salvador, are concentrated in the Zona Rosa in San Benito, or in certain parts of La Escalón. However, Paseo El Carmen, an area of the nearby town of Santa Tecla with a colonial and bohemian atmosphere resembling that of Antigua Guatemala or Coyoacán, has recently become fashionable.

Up in the volcano
El Salvador’s famous coffee can be enjoyed in any number of coffee shops in the capital. But if you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, you should go to the summit of San Salvador volcano not only to marvel at the panoramic view of the city you get from there but also to savor a delicious cup of one of the best Salvadorian varieties, such as Pacamara or El Borbón.

Anyone interested in going to the top of the volcano will probably also enjoy water sports like jet skiing, diving, or water skiing. Ilopango Lake, a 25-minute drive to the east from San Salvador, via Plaza Mundo, is the ideal spot for this. You should always be accompanied by diving experts from organizations like El Salvador Divers.

If you visit the area in late January, you will probably be lucky enough to see the Ilopango Air Show, organized by the Salvadorian Civil Aviation Club.

As if all this were not enough, a picturesque spot half an hour from Santa Tecla, southwest of San Salvador, has become a destination for nature tourism and nocturnal tours, because of the beauty of its historic center. This is Comasagua, where coffee farms in the neighborhood can be visited and ecological tours of the area are offered.

Flying with Avianca
From Avianca’s hub in El Salvador, the airline has 184 weekly flights to several destinations in Central America: Belize, Guatemala, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

Get online to www.avianca.com and view flight schedules that best suit your travel needs.

Avianca, a leading airline in Latin America, works to deliver a world class service to ensure/encourage customer loyalty. It´s route network includes over 100 destinations in 25 countries in the Americas and Europe, connecting through its hubs in Bogota, El Salvador, and Lima. As a member of Star Alliance the airline offers worldwide connectivity options.