Glorious in Guatemala – Antigua Day 1

Today we head west towards the colonial city of Antigua. The traffic is slow moving, and it takes a long time to get through Guatemala City. We finally arrive in Antigua for the evening and check into the El Carmen Suites…a spacious hotel with an open courtyard and decent sized rooms.

And tonight is the night to explore some of Antigua’s food and nightlife.

First stop is Puerta Once (Door Eleven), which features a fun happy hour of mixtas – they mix light and dark draft beer in one glass!

We sit in the open courtyard, enjoying the laid-back atmosphere. Next we end up at Rainbow Café for more drinks and a massive plate of nachos for dinner.

It is open mic night, and Pedro (our tour leader) gets up to recite a poem he wrote. And for the last drinks of the evening, we end up at Reilly’s Irish Pub. A super fun place but I am expecting to hear Irish music playing. Nope, it’s Spanish music! But we dance anyway! The next day we head out to explore the area of Lake Atitlan (as told in my previous blog), and will be back in Antigua….

Fast forward to a few days later… we leave Lake Atitlan and arrive back at the El Carmen suites.

The drive is really curvy and windy, and the driver is heavy on the brakes. I feel “off” for the rest of the day and I think that is why but I realize later it is because I’m coming down with a terrible cold! Ugh.

Antigua is located in the central highlands of Guatemala; it was the capital of the kingdom of Guatemala for many years. The beautiful Spanish style baroque architecture is just stunning, and there are many ruins to explore.

Antigua is also surrounded by a few volcanoes which can be climbed (I decide not to this time), and the city has experienced many earthquakes that have left many structures in ruins. Because of this, the capital was eventually moved to Guatemala City.

We embark on a walking tour with Pedro; first stop is the huge station where all of the chicken buses pick up and drop off. They are a colorful sight, and decorated in a fancy manner with lights and pictures.

There is usually a stereo system on board too. They are actually old school buses from the USA, and they get their name because locals used to transport live animals on them…mostly chickens.

We continue to walk through Parque Centrale, stopping to admire the pretty mermaid fountain. Fun Fact: the water streams out of the mermaid’s nipples. Oh My!

The next stop is the old public laundry fountain in La Union Park. The paths are lined with tall palm trees and it’s small and quaint.  

I don’t think anyone still uses it for laundry? I didn’t see anyone.

But it is said to be haunted…on nights of the full moon, there are weird noises coming from the water tank and you may see a woman taking a bath.

But don’t follow her when she walks away…she’ll take your soul once she lures you out of the city.

On the way to the Hill of the Cross

We then head north to hike up the Hill of the Cross.

It’s way up there!

I’m already getting out of breath walking up the slow incline to get to the actual hike part. Everyone goes ahead, I decide to take my time since I’m not feeling great (it should only take around 10 minutes to get to the top). In the past, this hike has had problems with robberies so there is supposed to be police presence (although I did not see any). And once at the top..the views of the city below are breathtaking.

There is a giant cross up here too, and it makes for some great photos of Antigua.

It’s super humid today and I am feeling light headed so I buy some ice-cold water and head back down. Along the way, these two Guatemalan women are trying to tell me something but I have no idea what they’re saying. Then Pedro catches up to me, and I find out that the ladies are trying to tell me to be careful since I was by myself. That is so nice!

Tonight is the last night we will all dine together as a group so Pedro chooses a fancier place. And also, it is his birthday! The restaurant is La Fonda de la Calle Real. We sit in the open courtyard area; it is quiet and romantic. Ok, as a group we don’t need romance, but I’m just saying it is! Haha. I decide to finally try kak’ik, a traditional Mayan turkey soup, flavored with spices like coriander, garlic, onions and chili peppers.

It’s tasty, but I’m not a fan of the cut of meat in the soup. To go alongside the soup, I try a pupusa – a stuffed tortilla and the one I order is stuffed with loroco flower. It also tastes great! After dinner, we head to a place called El Ilegal, a cool trendy little bar that serves cheap beer, happy hour drinks and fun music.

There is a small room in the back which we take over and all of the walls feature art from local artists.

The last stop tonight is a nightclub called La Casbah…a multi level club with a large dancefloor. I’m not a fan of this style of club, but it was fun to dance for a couple of hours…despite it being super crowded and ridiculously hot in there.

I stay for a bit and then head back to the hotel by myself…there’s only so much I can take…giving out the uncool old lady vibes. There is this old church close to the hotel that I have to walk by…it looks super creepy at night. It’s gotta be haunted. They use it for functions like weddings and parties.

There is so much to explore in Antigua…can’t wait until tomorrow!

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