Antigua is one of the most popular places in Guatemala. Known for it’s colorful streets and cultural experiences, this city should be on every globetrotter’s bucket list. In this article I will narrate my short but breathtaking experience visiting la Antigua.
After not seeing my best friend for over four years, I decided to travel to Guatemala to reunite with her. My friend, Avia, is a woman from all over the world. Her childhood and life have been built as a puzzle with pieces from many different countries, cultures, lifestyles and communities. We met in high school, in the country I had always lived in, Ecuador. She was the new student, a foreign. We didn’t like each other at first, but when we realized both of us sucked at biology, we became best friends. I know it sounds funny, it was, but most of all it was important. She became the most important friend I have ever had. Now, I have travelled across Latin America to meet her and get to know the country she has lived in for the past year and a half: Guatemala. She lives in San Marcos, a town in Lake Atitlán. One of the most spectacular places in Guatemala. You can expect a full guide to the lake from me very soon. However, before travelling to Lake Atitlán we spent her birthday weekend in Antigua. I will share everything we did for two days in the most friendly and colorful city I have ever visited.
A weekend in Antigua
There is plenty of stuff you can do in Antigua that involves hikes or rides to places. However, this trip was not planned at all and we didn’t do the very touristy things. This is something I wasn’t used to doing. A few years ago, I would travel and go to places known by tourists, where you literally couldn’t take a picture with no one on your back. Now, I appreciate longer walks. I walk around towns or cities and wait for my intuition to tell me where I should go, who I should meet, and what I should try. That is precisely what we did, and I ended up having one specific situation that genuinely filled my heart with love and gratitude. This is not only a story about our time in Antigua, but a guide as well. Because I visited the most amazing places, and would truly recommend them all.
First night in Antigua
I arrived in Antigua on Friday night. We spent that night in a fancy hotel. The hotel was lit by hanging candles in the interior garden, filled with amazing natural plants of different kinds. A few with bright colored flowers. The restaurant occupies all the surroundings of the garden. I checked in and hugged my friend for a minute. The reunion was amazing. Nonetheless, being reunited in this magical place was on a whole other level. The place was called Mesón Panza Verde. Little did we know we would eat like goddesses that night, listening to live music. We had the perfect romantic best friend dinner. I would recommend every single plate we ordered: Pork Belly with Thai salad, Squid ink pasta with seafood and an amazing sweet Beet Salad with cream goat cheese.
We ordered a pisco sour to accompany our meal. Everything was truly amazing.
Link to dinner reels on IG: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CQ2lg70D6Mq/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
The next morning, we had an amazing breakfast as well. This was included with our stay. Later, we discovered parts of the hotel. Our favorite was definitely the roof. Here are some pictures and videos you can watch of Mesón Panza Verde, as well as their own website: https://www.panzaverde.com/
One entire day in Antigua
After check out, we changed hotels checking to one that was a lot closer to the city’s town square. I didn’t like it as much so I wouldn’t recommend it, but here is the link anyway. The bright side was its location. We left our bags and went out. Our walking adventure through Antigua began.
Across one of the streets from the main plaza there is a place called El Mercadito. You’ll go in and encounter the most amazing handmade jewelry, clothes and home decor. The artisans are mostly women and all of them are wonderfully welcoming. It is the perfect place to buy souvenirs from Guatemala.
We kept walking and I was amazed at how kind people are. Everyone will welcome you with a big “hola” and a smile you’ll see through their eyes. We walked along the streets and I could see a lot of beautiful restaurants and hostels all around. The walls of Antigua are painted with different colors and their windows sometimes decorated with pretty flowers. The churches are big and decorated. A peculiarity of Antigua, in comparison to many other colonial cities and towns I have visited, are the church ruins you can see all around the area. Antigua was impacted by two huge earthquakes. One in 1773 and the other in 1976. These half-standing churches are the most vivid image you could get from the devastation. However, you can’t go inside most of them. From the outside, though, they are wonderful, for their gardens are vividly colorful.
Here are some other amazing travel guides on Yoair Blog.
Arte el Sol – The Bead Store
We walked through one of the streets and I found a bead store that I wanted to get into. This was my favorite part of the trip. I just knew I had to go inside, something woke up in my intuition. It looked like any other bead store until I found those waxed threads that I had bought in Buenos Aires when I was a child with my mom to make woven bracelets. I lost my mind over the diversity of colours they had. Carrying almost no money with me and having planned a special lunch, I could only buy a few meters. It was hard to decide as to what colors I wanted to get. While making up my mind, Avia was amazed by some traditional beads she found and the guy who worked there laughed at how excited we were. We started small talk and instantly gained trust. He asked me if I was an artisan, but I am not. I only enjoy crafts during my free time. He told me he used to do macrame a few years ago, but he had stopped because of the store. Then he offered to give them to me as a gift (the kind of threads I loved), because he had not used them for about six years ago. He said that he would rather give them to me so that I can make art instead of having them hanging at home as time goes by. I said I could maybe pay for them. He insisted he wanted to give them to me as a gift, because I had been kind to him. My heart was drowning in happiness and gratitude. I identified that Guatemalan people are very kind, but this was kindness and generosity at it’s full potential. The next day, Mauricio and I met at the central plaza where he gifted me an entire bag of threads that I will be using to expand my creativity throughout my one-month stay in this beautiful country. I hope our paths cross again someday.
After this encounter, we walked all the way to Caoba Farms to get lunch. I knew it was a place where we would get healthy, fresh organic food on the outside of Antigua. It was so much more than that. Caoba Farms was founded by Alex Kronick in 2004. It started small, like any other business. Now, it has two functioning organic farms and consists of 45 hectares of land. However, the extraordinary thing about Caoba is not only their organic produce, but how they managed to create a wholesome project that surrounds an organic and healthy lifestyle. Caoba Farms offers tours, volunteering opportunities, weekly fairs, a store and one of the most delicious restaurants I have ever eaten in.
Caoba Farms Restaurant
We ordered a Mediterranean plate and a veggie burger. My favorite part was the citric and mint frozen lemonade we had, because the day was warm and it tasted refreshing. Below you will find pictures and videos of the place, as well as it’s linked website. I was astonished by all the flowers they had in the greenhouse and outside of it. If you visit Antigua, this has to be a must on your to-do list.
Link to Caoba Farms reel on IG: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CQ9PHUBjcPX/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Link to Caoba Farms website: https://www.caobafarms.com/quieacutenes-somos.html
Streetfood in Antigua
July is part of the rainy season, so we waited for the rain at the hotel and then went out again. We walked Antigua’s streets at night. We got to La Merced church where they had a street food fair. I wasn’t that hungry really, but when travelling, street food is one of my favorite things to try. Street food is an open door to traditional culture. I’ll never regret this experience, because I got to try the most amazing tostada ever. A tostada is a fried tortilla with guacamole and other stuff you decide to add. My choices were a fresh relish salad, ground beef with veggies, onions and salsa. This has to be another must do in Antigua. Also, having the culinary experiences at Panza Verde and Caoba Farms was amazing, but when you travel on a budget, street food is extremely affordable, and just as good.
After that, we went for a cold beer at Antigua Cerveza: “Antigua Cerveza was born in honor of this noble city. Inspired by Antigua’s mix of personalities, history and traditions, three best friends discovered and created the unique tastes of this delicious beer. Crafted by hand, and with pride, we present Antigua’s true craft beer.” They sell four different artisanal beers and all of them are really good. Plus, their location is also perfect.
Link to Antigua Cerveza: https://www.antiguacerveza.com/english#who-are-we
A night in Antigua’s Town Square
We sat in the town square and people watched. This is one of my favorite activities when travelling. Having a seat at the plaza and watching everyone who lives, works and visits the city. Gorgeous women selling traditional accessories and wearing their ethnic clothes walked by. Tiny children selling gum and jewelry approached us. A guy who had a coffee shop too, but we don’t drink coffee at night. There were Guatemalan families and tourists exploring.
The next morning in Antigua
The next day we had a few hours to run errands. I met Mauricio as I wrote already and we had a beautiful sweet fruit smoothie at La Condesa in the town square. Then, we took a van that drove us to Panajachel, where we hopped on a boat that brought us to San Marcos La Laguna.
Final ideas on Antigua Guatemala
Antigua has a colorful culture. You can see its colors in traditional sweets, in textile markets, in ice cream shops and in murals. The colors are worn by the indigenous people, they are displayed in the fruit shops, they are in the windows of homes and in their gardens. There is color in the quinceañera dresses, the photographs hanging on the walls, the masks used as decor and in the flower vases on tables where you dine. There is color in all the food you eat. You breathe colour and joy. Antigua is beauty and kindness. It is cultural expression, but most of all it is diversity. There is diversity in languages, nationalities and personalities. Diversity in taste and places. Diversity in artistic manifestations. It is the one place in the world where I’ve felt the most welcome as a traveller. Antigua should be on your bucket list, as it was on mine.
Another article written by Milene Broche: https://www.yoair.com/blog/beyond-van-gogh-art-exhibition-experience-in-miami/
You can also check out the author’s travel channel on YouTube and her personal blog as well: YouTube – Mile Broche and www.milebroche.com
If you want any further information related to travelling to Guatemala, you can reach out through Instagram @milebroche
Also, remember that Anitgua isn’t the only amazing place to visit in this country. Tikal, Lake Atitlan, Semuc Champey, and many more destinations are totally worth your time, money and energy. Always remember that travelling is a mind-expanding action in which we learn about others and about ourselves. Travelling will help you grow in ways nothing will ever do. Bye for now! I’ll meet you again soon for more blogs on Guatemala’s culture and destinations.