September 20, 2016


To get to Antigua from our marina consists of a 6 hour bus ride to Guatemala city, then another one and half hour bus ride to Antigua.  Both buses are 1st class and air conditioned, really, not a bad ride at all.  I really enjoy looking at the country side along the way.

Antigua, pronounced ‘an’tiyawa is a city in central Guatemala famous for its well preserved Spanish Baroque influenced architecture as well as several ruins of colonial churches.  To give you an idea of how big the city is now, there are approximately 35,000 inhabitants.  The city of Antigua sustained several earthquakes and volcano eruptions, some quite devastating.    Today, the central park (Parque Central) is in the heart of the city.  It is a popular gathering spot especially on week-ends.  Off to the side is the “Cathedral of Saint James San Jose Parrish”.  The first building was built in 1545 with rubble brought from the destroyed settlement in the valley of Almolonga.  Its construction was hampered by frequent earthquakes.  A 2nd sanctuary would be inaugurated in 1680.

Cathedral of Saint James San Jose Parrish

View from the Government building (not open on week-ends)

Central Park with the AGUA volcano in the background

The central park underwent a beautifying face lift and government officials celebrated by making speeches and thanking the architects along with live music.

Around the Central Park

Historic San Francisco Church  

The “Arco de Santa Catalina” is among the many notable architectural landmarks in Antigua.  The arch dates back from the early 17th century whose function was of passage for the nuns requiring not to be seen while crossing the street. 

Arco de Santa Catalina

I was lucky to have been invited to a wedding at the beautiful Merced Church near the arch of Santa Catalia.

Beautiful bride arriving in a carriage 

There were so many roses the smell was overwhelming

Antigua is quite touristy and has approximately 300 restaurants and has many hostels, hotels and guide services.  To walk the city, I’d advise to bring good walking shoes as all the streets are made of cobble stones.  However I did see a family of 5 riding a motorcycle.  There is so much to see in Antigua, you’ll never be bored (get a map from the tourist office).

Antigua is known for its very elaborate religious celebrations during Lent named “Cuaresma”, leading up to Holy week and Easter.  Elaborate and beautiful artistic carpets predominantly made of dyed sawdust, flowers, pine needs and fruit and vegetables adorn the processions path.  There is a large parade like procession during this time with religious floats.

Religious Float

Religious Float

Three large volcanos can be seen from just about anywhere around the city.  They are Volcan de Agua “Volcano of water”, Acetenango which erupted last in 1972 and Volcan de Fuego “Volcano of fire”.  Fuego is famous for being almost constantly active at a low level.  You can see steam and gas from its top daily and a larger eruption occurred in September 2012.

Volcano Fuego smoking ! (View from our hostel)
Volcano Fuego.  Photo:  Courtesy of s/v Angel Eyes

Tim and I walked many miles around the city exploring many of the archaeological sites.  There are also several Jade museums since Jade is mined in Guatemala.  In ancient Mayan times, Jade was not only used as ornaments but also used to fill in tooth cavities.  We enjoyed dining in several wonderful restaurants of every type.  Our favorite was a curry dish at the Tokoban restaurant along with imported German beers.  Tokoban actually means “Unnamed Bar” in Indonesia since the owner’s mother is Indonesian.  The Dutch owner calls himself Eduardo because nobody can remember his Dutch name. 

Tim climbed the Acatenango volcano which was a 5,000 feet elevation gain taking most of the day.  The top is at 13,045 feet and it was freezing up there.  A hat and gloves would have helped.  The next day, both of us climbed the Pacaya Volcano at 8,373 feet.  Both had amazing views from the top.

Brittle and sharp lava rock

I decided to warm up our sandwiches for lunch 

There are several stores selling textiles galore !  I bought a few from Cristobal from the village of Santa Catarina Polopo village around Lake Atitlan.

Cristobal and Susan

 The Mayan people are some of the shortest people in the world.  It’s really strange for me to look down at people as I’ve mostly had to look up.  I met several women and men who are 4.5 feet and under !  There are 22 Mayan languages.   When a Mayan woman marries a man from another village, she is obliged to learn his language but not the man.  Their children have the opportunity to learn both Mayan languages.  They differ drastically between each language. 

The Saturday market in Antigua is a very large one with so much food, its mind bottling.  There are so many people, it’s hard to walk between the isles.

Delicious lechees

Inside the Hotel Casa Santo Domingo (3ra Calle Oriente #28  )is an upscale hotel & spa along with several museums that is built amid the ruins of the 16th Century iglesia. 

Archaeological Museum

Thunbergia mysorensis, also called Mysore trumpetvine or Indian clock vine, is a species of flowering plant in the family Acanthaceae

We took a chicken bus from Antigua to the village of San Antonio.  This little village has a craft market where you can see several Mayan women weave their exquisite work.  Unfortunately, a few days before we arrived, sadly the building burned and so did all their inventory.  Several stores beside the market were still operating. 
Chicken bus terminal in Antigua
The girls in San Antonia tried teaching me making tortillas.  It's not as easy as it looks.
This man's work was beautiful.  Too bad they are hiding under ground.

Some kind of Festival in Antigua

Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross)

This and that....

What are these ?


Bus:  To get to Antigua from Fronteras (Rio Dulce), we took  the Litegua bus at 8am to Guatemala city bus terminal (6 hours).  From there, they will put you on another bus at 2pm to the Calle 15, Zona 1 bus terminal (about a 15 minute drive).  At this bus terminal, there is a cafeteria with really good Guatemalan coffee.  We waited there about 20 minutes before the bus left for Antigua, taking about 1.5 hours.  The bus lets you off at the Central Park.  From there you can walk or take a cab to your hotel.

In Antigua, go to the tourist office and get a map of the city which helps to find all the sites. 

Best curry dish:  TOKOBAN restaurant with imported German beer.  Inexpensive with large portions however beer prices are more than local beer of course.

Best French Crepe restaurant:  LUNA DE MIEL.  There are often line ups on week-ends.  We went for lunch on the terrace upstairs.

Shuttles to airport:  The earliest shuttle from Antigua to Guatemala international airport if at 4am.  I read that it takes 1 hour however the girl at the tourist desk sait it takes 1.5 hours.  Because my flight was too early, I needed to take a private taxi ($34us).  It took us 45 minutes to get to the airport with no traffic as we left at 3:15am.

Tour agencies:  There are plenty of tour agencies everywhere in Antigua and they don’t charge the same prices so shop around.  They go to places such as Tikal, Semuc Champey, Lake Atlitlan, Chichicastenango, Copan, ect ect…They can also book you on shuttles to the airport and reserve taxis for you.

Certified fitness trainer/boxer:  Eric Grahm.  Tel (502) 576803653.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool. Quite the trek to get there but looks like worth it.