My backpacking life part 4…...
Antigua, for me was the highlight of our Central America adventure. Situated in the central highlands of Guatemala and known for it's well-preserved Spanish Baroque influenced architecture and was once the capital of Guatemala. Antigua is overlooked by three large volcanoes, with one the "Volcan de Fuego" being Central America's most active volcano.
We spent a total of three nights in Antigua and stayed at the La Casona, de Antigua which is located on the edge of the city in a private gated residential complex. The hotel has a total of 11 rooms that look out upon a central courtyard and fountain. Breakfast was included and made to order by their wonderful in house chef, and we ate each morning upon the terraced roof looking out at Volcan De Fuego. We paid less than $100 a night to stay in this beautiful building that was just a short walk into the bustling city center.
Antigua is awash with color, stunning colonial spanish architecture, geometric pattern and textiles. Visit beautiful monasteries, Cathedrals and enjoy the plentiful arts and crafts and shopping that the city has to offer.
Antigua offers an abundance of delicious food and coffee. Make reservations to dine at Casa Santo Domingo an old converted convent which now hosts a museum, hotel and fine dining restaurant. Have lunch at Cafe Condesa, tucked away in the main square and enjoy a fine roasted Guatemalan coffee at Refuge Coffee. For the sweet tooth's out there, enjoy delicious traditional Guatemalan candy and pastry treats at Dona Maria Gordillo.
Another way to pass the time is shopping, and Antigua has plentiful. For fine art head to La Antigua Galeria, and be sure to check out Casa de Artes for traditional Guatemalan folk art, crafts and textiles. 4th street hosts an abundance of upscale shops for jewelry, ceramics and art and if you are shopping for souvenirs, gifts and textiles then head to Calle del Arco.
Chichicastenango market is hosted each Thursday and Sunday and is located about three hours outside of Antigua, nestled in the crest of the mountaintops. It is well worth the pilgrimage to find traditional handicrafts, textiles, pottery and food where vendors from all over Guatemala travel to sell their crafts. The market is a sensory overload of color and smells, bring plenty of cash and be prepared to haggle.