Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
332Trip End Jan 19, 2007
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Arrive fine in GC and experience our first taste of Guatemalan culture as migration is mayhem and we queue for over an hour to get through and people are pushing in, etc. We spend most of our time trying to stop them without creating a row (how very British).
On the other side we are relieved to see our luggage has made it and manage to haggle for a taxi to take us to Antigua along with another guy we have met at the airport. He has the enviable job of being a postman in the Florida Quays, sounds idyllic. We leave the airport via a pretty big motorway and I am stunned by what I see, McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut. It looks just like the US!
An hour later after lots of hills and greenery we arrive in Antigua, the old colonial capital. It was the capital until the 1700s but most people left after a series of earthquakes. The govt tried to force everyone to leave but some didnt, I can understand why. It is a lovely colourful town with cobbled streets and virtually all single story buildings apart from the huge churches.
We find a hostel - Santa Lucia IV near the bus station and market for 100 Quetzales (15Q to the pound) and go for a wander. Find the main square with the cathedral
We have a nice traditional Asian meal, like you do in Guatemala before we slope off to bed shattered.
We get up early and I am back to running again although I feel very conspicious in my shorts as its not quite de rigeur here.
After breakfast we walk for ages and ages around the town.
Feeling a tad churched out we head to the bus station to find out about buses to Chichi for Sunday´s market. Everything here is REALLY geared up for tourists, tours, shuttle buses etc, a lot more than we imagined. But we dont like travelling to easily. Plus we dont want to arrive at the market with all the other gringos. The bus station is chaos with the fantastically colourful ´chicken´ buses (old US school buses repainted and used here to transport anyone and everyone and thing including chickens) with the destinations cryptically painted on the front. There is no office or info booth, we have been spoilt in S America. We ask someone and find out that you have to change buses in Chimal to get to Chichi. This means leaving v early plus it will take ages with the numerous stops on the way for everyone. We go for the easy option after all and book the 6am shuttle bus for Chichi on Sunday, I feel a bit like I am cheating but I´m sure we will have our fill of chicken buses on this part of our trip!
Sun sets pretty early here and we find ourselves going to Casa Santa Domingo in the dark, this is part museum part hotel. We are pleased we arrive in the dark as the place is spectacularly lit up with hundreds of candles and white lights. There are lots of ruins here which they have tastefully covered in plants and lights and it looks really magical. We wander around thinking that we may even have a drink in the posh bar but manage to tour the place unhindered so just carry on and watch a wedding being set up in a courtyard. Fantastic place!
Have dinner in Travellers Menu which is great with lots of fresh veggies and then go to the cinema to see the ´Da Vinci Code´. I resisted reading this book for ages and ages and finally succumbed in July. I was glad I had read it as although the film was in English when they were speaking in French or latin there were only Spanish subtitles and my French and Spanish are still pretty crap, especially when it comes to religious history and symbolism.
Anyway I fell asleep for most of it as I was shattered from all our walking. Dave enjoyed it though.
After break we head to the tourist police office to meet them for their 10am walk up to Cerro de la Cruz (they chaperone tourists twice a day other time is at 1500 due to potential safety issues). This is about a 25 min walk from the square up the hill to a huge cross dominating the skyline and view of Antigua. Is a great view as you can imagine and gives you a sense of perspective of how big this place is and how many wonderul buildings and gardens there are.
Back in town we go to La Recollecion another set of ruins which are also nice plus there is a wedding going on here so we steal photos of the bridesmaids running around.
Wander through the market to buy some fruit and resist fake t-shirts and shoes before we have a good lunch for only 15Q at Wiener before our 1400 trip!