Jan 30 – After breakfast, we packed up our packs, and got ready for the 90 minute ride to Antigua. (Note: we are not talking about Antigua the Caribbean island, but Antigua the colonial former capital of Guatemala.) Our original plan was to hike back to the airport and catch a shuttle bus, but it turns out that the Uber fare was comparable, so we just tapped the app and David pulled up to our door. This really is too easy – we may never walk again!
It took an hour of driving to reach the edge of Guatemala City, which looked just like any other big crowded city, then a half hour of ear-popping altitude climb to reach the quaint little town of Antigua. We are staying at the Casa Gitana guest house, which has great reviews thanks to its very personable host, Carlos. Carlos spent about a half hour marking up the town map, showing us which places were tourist traps and which were worthwhile.
Our first order of business was to find some lunch, so we took Carlos’ suggestion to check out Rincón Tipico for some typical Guatemalan food. There was a huge wood-fired rotisserie and two little ladies slapping out fresh tortillas. The meals were super yummy, and I don’t think we’ll need much dinner tonight.
We checked out the town square, where local women sold woven goods and jewelry.
Folks are definitely short statured here!
Jan 31 – Next to the central square is the Antigua Cathedral.
What was notable here was the number of people on their knees in prayer- something we don’t often see in the churches we visit.
We stopped into a coffee shop, in one of the few old buildings not devastated by earthquakes, and Jim thought he ordered a potato-filled pastry. Not even close! Pan tres leches, or three milk cake is soaked in heavy cream and topped with whipped cream. A happy accident, as this is something we would never order. It sure was good…
Further down the road is the ruins of Antigua’s original cathedral of San José. Devastated by three different earthquakes in the 1700s, it was not rebuilt.
Below the ruins are catacombs that once held the important dead.
In the midst of the ruins, orchestral music played and we were ushered into a tableau of the Holy Family’s escape to Egypt. The figures are life sized.
Isn’t this a pretty building? It is San José el Viejo, a ruin used as a wedding venue!
In the afternoon, we walked up to the scenic overlook called Cerro de la Cruz, or Hill of the Cross. It gives a view of Antigua and Volcan de Agua beyond. This particular volcano has not been active since the 1500s. I was not happy with my ability to climb this hill – my heart kept pounding in my ears as we ascended. Maybe the altitude? Jim has many more walks planned to get me back in shape!
Antigua is laid out in a nine by nine block grid with numbered streets and avenues, so it is very easy to navigate and very walkable from one end to the other on foot. The streets are all cobblestones, many of them loose, so sturdy walking shoes are recommended. Tomorrow, more from Antigua!