Today it’s a picturesque town that attracts many local and international travelers.
I’ve spent a few days here so far, and even though there are more tourists than some other places I’ve been to in Guatemala, there’s a reason for it. Antigua is very easy on the eyes!
It’s a colorful town, with many interesting ruined churches and monasteries to gaze at every few blocks.
The area is tranquil, and surrounded by mountains & volcanoes. December weather in Antigua is cold at night, but warm and sunny during the day.
The streets are filled with people and activity, it’s fun to just aimlessly walk around.
Antigua has many great restaurants too, but for Guatemalan standards they’re a bit on the expensive side. Street food is plentiful though, and a trip to the market can score you a great meal for about $15 Quetzales ($1.80 US).
Antigua has a lot of upper-middle class Guatemalan tourists visiting from the city. The town is a holiday getaway where wealthy locals spend time with family.
Because Christmas is this week, the area has been very busy. It’s interesting watching the different Guatemalan social classes interact with each other.
Rich Guatemalan’s snap photos of poor local people just like many other international tourists do, and some actually seem even more aggressive about it.
I watched one guy shove his video camera in the face of a young mother begging on the street, when she obviously didn’t want to be filmed… :(
I met the Vice President of Guatemala the other day! His name is Dr. José Rafael Espada, and his security convoy stopped so he could go furniture shopping with his wife.
With a crowd of onlookers and heavily armed G-2 men (Guatemalan Secret Service) surrounding him, he waved me over for a chat in the presence of a small news crew. We talked in English for a few minutes about my travels, then he left with his security force.
The best part was I didn’t find out who he was until AFTER I got done speaking with him! I just saw all the security, the news crew, the crowd, and assumed he was someone I should get photos of. While we spoke to each other I pretended I knew him, but later I had to ask a local: “who was that I just met?”.
The guy I asked thought it was hilarious. :)
I’ll be spending Christmas here in Antigua, and it should be a good time. I can tell there will be a lot of festivities. It will be tough not having family or close friends around, but that’s sometimes the price you pay for long-term travel.
Specific Details & Tips
Good Place to Sleep: Villa Esthela
Good Place to Eat: Tras la Puerta Verde (9a Calle & 2 Avenida Sur)
Tips: Check out Cafe No Se on the East end of town for a chill bar/lounge/cafe to hang out. If you get sick of tourists, walk to the other towns close by for a change of pace.