We crossed from Guatemala to El Salvador with Pullmantur buses, for details on our crossing you can view our border crossing post.
We arrived in San Salvador following a 10 hour bus journey and opted for ease and convenience when we chose to stay in the hotel above the Puerto Bus terminal. The hotel itself was situated roughly in the centre of the city with the historic centre on our right and the more developed part of town a good 15 minutes walk away on the left.
Staying above the bus terminal also offered us the ease of being at the right place for our onward travel to Nicaragua with King Quality buses, and the hotel itself was nice and had the added bonus of air con, a god send in such a hot city.
Prior to arriving in El Salvador we were warned repeatedly about the crime levels of the country and especially the capital, San Salvador. This was then repeated again in our guide books and by people we met who lived there. So much so that we felt ourselves unusually on edge and unwillingly to engage with people as we normally would.
We found ourselves unnerved by people saying hello to us or just trying to speak to us and nervous about even getting into taxis. Despite this we walked round the whole city without any problems, from the not so great markets in the historic centre to the large shopping centres in the newer side town, and all we found was the same level of courtesy that we had experienced everywhere else. The only thing we noticed is that people seemed more curious about us, which we put down to there not being many tourists walking around.
In fact our greatest problem was finding an ATM that accepted MasterCard as they all seemed to just accept Visa, in the end we found Scotia Bank which accepts both and is located in the MetroSur shopping district.
The city is very divided in terms of old and new, but to us the new was not necessarily an improvement on the old. The new shopping and eating district consists of 2 large shopping centers and a long, busy road which is greener and cleaner but is filled with giant fast-food signs competing to be seen.
The whole city seems to be dominated by the US fast-food giants to the point that we struggled to find a local restaurant outside of small roadside eateries.
The one gem we did find in this chaotic city was one of the best Japanese restaurants I have ever eaten in. Kamakura is located in the north-west of the city and despite it being a good 15 minutes taxi ride away for us we couldn’t resist going back for more. The prices were not cheap but the level of service and the quality of food offered made it a place to remember.
After 4 days we decided it was time to move on, we had contemplated going down to the beach in el Tunco for a few days but between the heat and feeling unnerved we instead decided to move on to Nicaragua, and place our remaining budget into the future pot.