We saved a few bucks by staying in a four-bed dorm (decent night's sleep, though) that was directly on the pedestrian-only shopping street. This was actually a good thing... Quiet, entertaining, and close to all the sights. Andrew and I did our usual job of exploring... We saw some beautiful streets, witnessed a Spanish soap opera star practice a scene where she almost jumps off a bridge, wrinkled our noses in the local market at super gross fish, walked through some beautiful parks, and spent a few curious minutes watching hundreds of turtles in the train station (which also doubled as an indoor rainforest... Weird, I know).
The most exciting thing for me was spending my nights on the sixth-floor balcony, watching the illegal street merchants below. They worked in groups, each carrying a blanket, bundled up like a sack, with their merchandise in it (purses, sunglasses, etc). They would spread out the blanket, arrange their goods, and wait for customers. Each corner of the blanket had a string tied to it. The merchant would hold all four stray ends of the strings, so that in one swift movement, he could pick up the sack and move on. Since they were not supposed to be selling, the guys on the ends would keep watch for the police. The entire time they watched, I was like a bird in the sky, also watching for the police. I couldn't wait to see how fast they could clean up and get outta there. After a few hours, my heart skipped a beat when I saw flashing lights come down the street. I turned back to where the merchants had been, and just like that, they were gone! Man, they were good. They were so fast and so swift that I didn't even get to see how they did it! Maybe I'll look it up on YouTube and see if anyone else has been fascinated by this...
The Turner FLACH Rating? 2 stars.