Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Antigua, Guatemala - the gem of Central American colonial history

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Antigua is known as the gem of Guatemala.  Steeped in Mayan history, you can wander the cobblestone streets, or wander up to the vantage points on the hillsides.Arriving in Antigua after a really stressful and long day, really took its toll on me.
I spent 2 days, where apart from a quick trip to the supermarket, and going out to the same crepe restaurant around the corner each night, well we pretty much rested and didn’t leave our room.
So when we finally did venture out it was to the local markets.
This market is in 3 sections, and I am told the prices are good compared to some other towns.
There is a clothes section inside, and we were pretty pleased with a couple of items we bought for Explorason – most likely rip off items.
Then we found a small store in one of the cobblestone streets with American brands and I was able to get a new top, and he another 2 items. Kids are tough on clothes.  We bought him a new t-shirt in El Salvador, and he had worn it under his Halloween costume, and n the play time after, it was stretched and ripped.
So there is no point paying heaps for clothes.
Antigua also has a famous MacDonalds. Set in a colonial buiding, it is gorgeous.
The staff will come around with trays of coffee, cakes and other goodies and serve you at the table. When my hands were full with an order, the lady came and carried it and showed me to ta garden terrace setting – lovely service.  It has a huge garden, lovely terrace, MacCafe, Playroom, and inside eating section.
We love it here.
We love the Mayan street seller.  I don’t love how much they haggle, but I do love their giggles and their passion to sell.
Over the time of our stay we often walked past the Iglesia de San Francisco.
Amazing architecture, and also has a museum if you want to visit and dates back to 1542.
There is a lovely arched wall near more ruins and in front is mirror clean water – a place they used to come to wash their clothes.
Partway along our street was Catedral de Santiago. It seemed to have a lot of fireworks let off at night, many times a week.  This was built in 1542 and the entrance hall is now Iglesia San Jose.  Here the monks and nuns would sneak through the Arco de Santa Catalina nearby at night – I daresay for moments of passion – well so the story is told.  This used to lead to the Santa Catalina Convent before it was destroyed by earthquake.
Many more ruins and old church buildings grace this town.
One of our favourite things to do is visit a gallery, especially for an art exhibition opening.
So we were pretty pleased when we were invited to this fantastic evening one Saturday night.
I felt like I was back in Adelaide, wandering around with my chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
Explorason enjoyed talking with the artist about why he mixed themes of modern and old worlds.
We also visited the memorial of a famous poet, and then wandered the streets making our own rhymes.
By far our favourite place to eat was Luna de Miel - a crepery with a fab terrace, and great crepes at an even greater price.
Antigua is the hub of Guatemala. To get to the lake most come and stay here first. Likewise for other nearby volcanoes and activities.
To see Antigua, you really need a minimum of 3 – 5 days and that would be with fairly solid walking.
Here in Antigua there is plenty of accommodation. Lovely hostels and gorgeous 5 star hotels are here to make your stay enjoyable. Wonderful restaurants and bars are here by the hundreds with gourmet delights. 
Finish your stay with dinner at Panza Verde – a wonderful restaurant and bar.
But one of my all time favourite memories is waking to look out our window at this magnificent volcano.  Etched in my brain forever.
Antigua – we will miss you and I hope we return soon.

We stayed at The Yellow House Hostel.
Really a fabulous super clean, professional & tastefully decorated hostel.
We recommend this hostel - and especially enjoyed the huge and yummy breakfast they include in the room price.  Ismael will look after you with bookings for all your tours too.

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