Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Guatemala for beginners : Antigua de Guatemala and onwards

Living in Austin is a very happy thing, and I am crazily lucky that I am able to visit family in London and the Cayman Islands so regularly. But my feet have been itching to visit new places for a while - so with Central America on our doorstep (and my appetite for it whetted after my 2011 visit to Nicaragua with CAFOD to film this little treat ... ) we consulted some lovely friends in the travel industry who assured us that if volcanoes and history and hiking were our headline items then Guatemala was not to be missed.

For J's first foray out of Europe and North America (a trip across the Bosphoros in Istanbul to spend half an hour in Asia definitely doesn't count!) we wanted to make sure we were meticulously organised  - so we called in the experts and planned a jam packed 8 days fitting in as many different things as possible.

Guatemala City is less than two hours flights from Houston. Perfect. We set off bright and early on a Friday morning flight and were whisked off by our driver an hour out of the capital to be installed in our Antigua Hotel in time for lunch.

We barely had time to knock back a welcome cocktail and take in the views before the lovely David was knocking on our door to lead us on a walking tour of the city.

And what a city it is. The former Spanish Colonial capital of the then 'Kingdom of Guatemala' it is bursting with well preserved colonial baroque architecture overlooked by three volcanoes. Laid out in a grid system it's easy to navigate and a perfect size to walk around.

And the clouds cleared to blue skies as our guide, who had grown up in Antigua, led us on a higgledy piggledy tour of both the guidebook hot spots and the places he personally loved - all the while pouring out a comprehensive history of the area. Quite overwhelmingly beautiful.
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