Saturday, 20 September 2014

0101 Antigua, Guatemala (Now Revised !!)

We arrived in Antigua on Wednesday planning to spend one night there, have a quick look at Antigua, and then head to the Honduran border before the busy weekend.  But as always, plans change, and we so enjoyed Antigua we stayed 2 nights, and it is now Saturday morning here and we are just about to cross the border !!

We are in a bit of a hurry so I will write more later, but while we have wifi I just wanted to upload the Antigua pics.

Suffice it to say that Antigua is the most amazing place, having once been the capital of Guatemala until it was destroyed by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in about 1750, at which time the capital was moved to Guatemala City. Many of the amazing cathedrals, convents and monasteries, and other imposing buildings, lay where they fell in 1750's, yet around them is this vibrant, thriving town, full of cobbled streets, great restaurants, and incredible hotels set in amongst the ruins.  Probably the most amazing is the Hotel San Domingo which is actually built in a ruined monastery, including active church, graves, candle factory, and much more.  US President Bill Clinton stayed there some time ago, as well as other heads of state from around the world.  Quite a place, and can strongly recommend coming to Antigua if you want a different type of holiday !!

Right, we are off to Honduras now, so until I have time to name the photos etc, you will just have to look at them and enjoy !!

Adios to Guatemala - It is a great country, and we have thoroughly enjoyed our stay here.

Pics are here

More stories !

Sorry about the delay but we have been a bit busy. Leaving Pana was a social event, saying farewell to Jane and Tonyino in our campsite from Brazil, heading north,  then we went over to the next door campsite to visit our German and French friends.  Jorge and Simone are traveling more slowly, so they are staying in Pana for a while, while Willie is heading to the Caribbean coast. But Greg(oire) and Estelle from France are heading south at our speed !  So after visiting them all in a separate campsite, we set off towards Antigua at about noon. We had a quick drive down through the main street in Pana and changed some dollars, and then headed off to Antigua.

On the way up the hill out of Pana we stopped at a local tourist place to see the view, and ended up with all the vendors crowded round the car asking us about our trip - Not one of them tried to sell us anything !!  After they helped us reverse out of the car park onto the busy main road, we headed off again, next stop Antigua.  The only camping site in Antigua is actually in the Tourist Police compound, so we went straight there (on the VERY bumpy cobbled streets) and it took us nearly half an hour to persuade the, to let us in !!  They seemed to be unwilling to let us camp there !  Eventually in, and once we filled ot the "book" we noticed that there were 3 other people there the night before, and 3 more the night before that !!  So what was the deal ??   We went over to the local markets to buy some food, and by the time we got back to the compound the French couple and Willie were in no problem !! Ah, the joys of Central American logic !!
Anyway, went out for a delightful meal in a little restaurant we found up the road, where there was a very good two man band playing, and a table full of locals having a very "happy" evening - A great atmosphere for a delicious meal before we ambled back to the Police compound for bed.

Next day we thought we would have an hour or two seeing Antigua before heading out, but it quickly became obvious that a couple of hours wasn't going to get it !  We also met a delightful Argentinian couple who are circus style performers who are travelling around in their VW camper - Franko and Alexandra, and their little dog who LOVED being brushed !! Anyway we decided to spend an extra day there and leave the next morning,  Some of the sights we saw were the Hotel San Domingo which is an amazing hotel set in the remains of a monastery (including its own candle factory), the Cappucine convent, and then various other buildings that were in various degrees of ruin from the massive earthquakes of 1750.  All buildings have high walls, so you see little from the road - But when the doors are open, you can see into the delightful central courtyards of the houses and hotels.  It really is a delightful city.  We could easily have spent several days there. We wandered the streets, went to the central plaza, and visited other sights as and when we found them.   We had lunch at a cafĂ© owned by Frank who made us more than welcome during the day, and then dinner that night just near the Police compound again.

A very pleasant stay in a great city.

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