After 5 weeks of serious Spanish immersion in Xela, Guatemala we headed south to the colonial city of Antigua. Excited to be on the move again we packed up Marlin, said goodbye to our lovely host family (there were even a few tears) and set out.
Antigua was just what our Spanish laden minds needed. We chose to stay at Posada La Merced, a small hotel owned and operated by Gail, a lovely woman from New Zealand. She gave us a great room and let us use her parking space while she was out of town.
Despite the fact that our Lonely Planet gives Antigua a bit of a ho-hum review we both felt it was definitely worth the visit – it’s not the cheapest place in Guatemala and three to four days is more than enough time to get a feel for the area.
Seriously…you get to see real, hot, flowing lava after a pretty painless hike (around 2 hours up and maybe 1.5 down). This is one of the coolest things to see in Antigua, take the afternoon hike, watch the lava as the sun sets and then see the red hot liquid rock flow down the volcano as you hike down at night. Wear good shoes or risk melting your soles and bring a walking stick, you will want the extra support, or you can rent one on the volcano.
Walk the City
Well-kept haciendas, immense churches and stunning ruins can all be found in the ancient city of Antigua, a true photographer’s paradise. The city is small enough for a well-organized traveler to see quite a few ruins and museums in one day or, for the more low-key wanderer, take a few days and enjoy the city’s cafés and restaurants in between. Don’t miss Casa Santo Domingo, a luxury hotel created around a former convent, which housed the order of Santo Domingo de Guzmán. The hotel design incorporates the ruins in creative and innovative ways. It costs 40Q to visit the grounds and explore the galleries, both Tom and I were very impressed with the use of raw ruins juxtaposed against modern museum techniques. The sprawling grounds are beautiful and immaculately maintained; we had limonadas in the garden and relaxed in the tranquil setting.
Eat at Café Condesa
Best Breakfast Ever.
Tags: antigua, cafe condesa, Driving the pan american, driving the pan american highway, driving to central america, driving to south america, Guatemala, pacaya, posada la merced, road trip, santo domingo, volcano