We landed in Guatemala City airport late at night, never my favourite time to arrive, and found our pre-booked transfer easily. The trip to Antigua was not a particularly long one but it is always nerve wracking late at night in the dark and with people you can’t speak to.
We arrived in the town and was driven down beautiful cobbled streets, immediately it was as I had imagined this Uniseco World Heritage Site to be. Arriving at our hotel to much confusion, and despite my limited (ok, non-existent Spanish) we managed to find our room. The only thing we had to negotiate that night was getting water, and then to bed.
I had chosen to arrive in Antigua a day before my tour started to give me a day to explore this town, as the trip was going to leave first thing the next day. As I had originally thought I was going to be on my own I had decided to booked a guided tour. In hindsight, this wasn’t really needed. It is a very walk-able town and armed with a good guide book you would see all the sights. However it was really nice to have a local perspective while wandering around.
After a small delay due to our guide not turning up (I have now learnt this is Central American time) and a little while to get used to the accent, we set off. He showed us the local houses, and chicken buses (something we would get very familiar with). The tour encompassed ruined churches, markets and the town square. We also visited a local hotel, ruins inside and with resident parrots.
A lot of the town has been ruined by earthquakes, leaving a very romantic and sad feel. It is in the shadow of these two gorgeous volcanoes, unfortunately we had arrived on a fairly cloudy day so these majestic mountains were little more than shadows. We were told on a clear day you can see the glow.
The streets of the town have a totally genuine feel, the houses are only allowed to painted in one of four colours and definitely no high rises! Coca cola sponsored some redevelopments, and the only advertising they were allowed to do is a brand embossed on lampposts – check it out.
After a lovely day wandering round we met our group in the evening, before setting out for a meal at a local hostel. We then ended up in a bar that offered free salsa lessons. Unfortunately the jet lag had kicked in at this point, so combined with my total lack of co-ordination I made a slightly early exit.
One day alone is enough to get the feel for the town, it is very walk-able. But there is always more to and one regret is that I did miss out on the view from the Cerro de la Cruz. However, one day is not enough for Guatemala, at the very least I want to go back and visit Tikal, must combine this with Belize I think!