Day 50: Panajachel - Antigua Guatemala

Antigua Travel Blog

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the colourful merchandise at an Antigua market

Today is already the last (full) day that my sister is with me. But we had one more city to visit together, Antigua Guatemala, the former capital. To save some money we decided to take a chicken bus, rather than a faster, more expensive tourist minibus.

The protests were still going on and the roadblocks were still there, so we had to take a different route, which, according to the driver, was much more dangerous. We travelled in a small convoy with two minibuses and at one point we were even escorted by the police, to protect us from all the bad guys and bandits in the mountains. I wondered if they would be really impressed by two policemen, sitting together on an off-road motorbike, without helmets or any body-armour and armed with only a handgun, but we arrived safely in Antigua.

the remains of an old church in Antigua

Antigua Guatemala is widely regarded as the nicest and most beautiful city in Guatemala. It is the former capital (the full name is La Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala), but after one earthquake or volcanic eruption too many the city was abandoned in 1773 and a new capital was built on the current site of Guatemala City, which was subsequently hit by even worse earthquakes in 1917, 1918 and 1976...

The city is less than 20 kilometres from the current, dangerous, capital, so this is an excellent base from which to explore the country. This results in Antigua being extremely touristy. It is one of the very few preserved colonial cities, and with the large amount of westerners strolling the streets it resembles more a Disneyland-like place than a city where people really live and work.

Antigua

Antigua also has the largest concentration of language schools in all of Latin America, and half the world comes here to learn Spanish. This results in that everywhere around you, you only hear English spoken, no seriously, you have to try hard to find someone with whom you can have a conversation in Spanish, because most students speak English amongst each other and the locals want nothing rather than to practice English with gringos. No, for many Antigua is the place to be, but both Robbel and I didn’t really like it. Too touristy, too American, too sterile, too fake.
Panajachel on the other hand, which is also very touristy, has a very unique identity and a great atmosphere. Antigua was just too sterile and fake for our taste.

Robbel’s farewell dinner was in what is supposed to be the best restaurant in town. Judging by the setting and the quality of the food I would gladly believe this is true. The chairs and tables were nicely arranged on the inner courtyard of a beautiful colonial hotel, with beautiful flowers and a fountain. The food was delicious; a succulent piece of meat and some delicious local wine to wash it down. An excellent last night of our trip together. Strange to realise that tomorrow I will be on my own again, while I'm only just past the half-way point of my trip.

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the colourful merchandise at an An…
the colourful merchandise at an A…
the remains of an old church in An…
the remains of an old church in A…
Antigua
Antigua
Antigua
Antigua
our lovely hotel room. Cant bea…
our 'lovely' hotel room. Can't be…
the streets of Antigua with volcá…
the streets of Antigua with volc…
the streets of Antigua
the streets of Antigua
trying to recreate one of my favou…
trying to recreate one of my favo…
remains of a church which has seen…
remains of a church which has see…
Antigua
photo by: monky