Antigua, Guatemala. A city with rich culture and beautiful cobblestone streets was just the place we were looking for to get away from the hustle and bustle of Cancun and the Yucatan. The city has mostly cobble stone streets with multi-colored buildings one right next to another. There are 22 large cathedrals, 11 monasteries, and 14 convents in Antigua, all of which were built between 1550 and 1800. The historical significance of this town is astounding. There are so many old buildings!
Plaza Central Antigua
The Plaza Central
We got settled in our rooms at the Palacio Chico 1940 in Antigua and went out to walk around. We made it to the central plaza near a Catholic Church and the there were people everywhere. The plaza central houses a fountain from the 1600s which is gorgeous. During Lent, every Sunday there is a huge parade, and everyone gathers at the central plaza. The center of town was packed near the main cathedral! We didn't expect this at all, and were told that all these people would leave and the town would lose its congestion which they did by the late afternoon.
Dinner with a friend at La Fonda De La Calle Real
Eating a Nice Meal with a New Friend
That evening went to a nice restaurant with traditional dishes called Fonda De La Calle Real.. It was really a nice place with a table right at the window. We ate like kings and queens on dishes of chile rellenos, stewed chicken with tamales and rice, nachos, and pupusas. Our new German friend Ollie, got an interesting dish that they say had an ancient sweet and sour sauce. It was black in color, but had a wonderful taste. We all shared our dishes, and had a wonderful time talking and enjoying life here in this magical place. Price for all of us (80 dollars)
Deciding to Climb a Volcano
After some talking we decided to climb Pacaya Volcano the next day, which is an active volcano. So we went home rather early (although the whole town pretty much shuts down at 10pm) and called it a night. The bed was softer than others here in CA. and we actually had 4 pillows!!!! yes! Funny the things we take for granted in the USA. Try to get a good nights sleep on a hard bed with one small inadequate pillow. Tough to say the least. We were glad to have found such a great place with a great friend.
Eating Burritos at a Rooftop Restaurant
Missing our Tour
The next day we got up and got some breakfast at our hotel, (continental) for the tour of the volcano which didn't leave until 2pm, so we had some time. We got some laundry together, and dropped it off to a woman who charges by the pound. For about 10 dollars she washed all our clothes for us. We walked around, and exchanged some money, and shopped a little. And ate at a great place on a roof top. We had Guatemalan burritos, which were great!!! We didn't get back until about 10 minutes before 2pm and raced to get our stuff together, back packs, water, food, and boots. Needless to say we missed our connection with our tour, and the lady who was to arrange it, probably took us to a different tour group a few blocks away and we joined that group.
On Our Way To Volcano Pacaya
On The Chicken Bus
Chicken Bus to Pacaya Volcano
We were on a 1970-80's school bus, on our way to Pacaya. It was quite a ride, took about 2 hours. A truly weird ride. We were going through really run down areas, of narrow streets at great speeds for a big yellow school bus with 30 people on it. We saw some incredible sights. Then after about an hour and a half we saw the volcano!!! EXCITING!! More in the next post.
Change in Perspective
Antigua, Guatemala is how I figured a Spanish colonial town would look in Central America. It's picturesque and in some ways very small town feel for a town as big as it is. There is really too much to see in Antigua. There are volcanos to climb, churches to see, spanish schools to visit, restaurants of every type and cuisine, and more that we haven't even discovered. It was really nice to just go and sit in the main plaza and feel more like locals rather than tourists. This is something we are beginning to understand. We don't like being tourists as much as we like just being part of the community we visit. Sitting on a park bench, drinking a coffee and hobnobbing with locals is really what we like. We love our trip so far, however were not loving the constant movement. It's interesting how your plans change from day to day when you are on the road.