It was a surprise to all of us to learn what an intriguing place Antigua, Guatemala is. This ancient town of cobblestone streets is artistic, musical and fun. Not just cobble stone here and there but everywhere. Some stones date back 400 years and as a result the streets are all very narrow. Not exactly made for cars, the traffic is slow and the ride bumpy as the tires bobble on the cobble. To go a few blocks takes forever as all the streets are one way and you have to go around the block(s) to get anywhere.
It is also very hard to know where you are as almost all buildings look the same from the street – just walls. You don’t know what is behind those walls until you enter. There are some land marks like the town square with pillars 600 plus years old, old churches and the original university buildings constructed in 1675.
Behind many walls are small restaurants where the food in unfailingly delicious and the decor pure art. Unlike our restaurants with Spanish decor, in Antigua it is the real thing with stone walls over a foot thick and corrugated tin roofs or terracotta tile.
The dining experience is unique. You are greeted warmly in Spanish ( or English ) order a drink and wait. They seem in no hurry to bring your drink; maybe 10 or more minutes. An even longer wait follows your food order.There just is no hurry. Meanwhile you could be entertained with live music from any number of styles or combinations.Our first visit to Antigua was on the weekend and the streets,hotels and restaurants were full as the Guatemalans flock there by the hundreds. Our second visit was during a weekday and you could have your choice of everything.
One of the new attractions in Antigua is a very cleverly designed and constructed mountain-top park and activity center. You get to the park via a very steep road in a special truck made to look like horse and buggy transportation of old. When we were there on a Saturday night the park was hosting several weddings in giant modern tent-like structures. There are also restaurants on the mountain top , a church overlooking the town and many outdoor sculptures, many of which really bend your mind. The grounds also have a world class art gallery with ever changing exhibitions.
The major pastime by visitors is to stroll the streets and visit the eclectic shops and eat and drink. You are pestered by pushy street vendors but after a while you get used to it You learn how to barter and towards the end of your trip you find out how you could have bought whatever at a fraction of what you paid for your first whatever. All in all a magic place. ( PS Just to show you how photogenic this place is most of these images where made in about three hours shooting time)