As my mini-coach entered the cobbled stone lanes of Antigua, I noticed two things. One, there were more locals that tourists. Two, the tourists had a very easy pace. In the first few minutes of looking at Antigua from a partially blocked view in my coach, I fully knew that this would be ‘the place’ in Guatemala. Maybe I expected too much from Lake Atitlan or too less from Antigua, that turned the tables in favor of Antigua as my favorite town in not only Guatemala but in entire Latin America including Mexico.
Sometimes on a research tour, when I go to places which are high on the ‘must go’ list, I end up not liking it so much. It has the face but just lacks the soul. Lake Ohrid in Macedonia, in the Balkans was one such place. With Lake Atitlan it was not as clear as Like Ohrid. I knew there was something there I was missing, and I knew I would find it. I can however say that I found what I was missing in Atitlan when I walked the streets of Antigua.
Five facts about Antigua
- Only Colonial city in Latin America with the backdrop of two volcanoes.
- The favorite city to learn Spanish for American and Europeans.
- Although the cuisine is not as popular as Peru, it still has a spark.
- Beautiful old world charm hotels for less than $30 per night.
- Best infrastructure for tourism in Guatemala.
It was lunchtime. Tourist friendly, lonely planet and TripAdvisor ranked restaurants had laid out their menu card out, with a person talking about it. I had left Atitlan without breakfast and it was nearly 2pm. Today however, it felt like walking not in search of lunch, but to just feel the cobblestones under my feet and to watch the locals eating at joints or having a dessert from a street seller. I think I could only keep up with the ‘oh I want to walk’ for the next 15 mins though. To blame, were the two ladies who just when I walked past their space, opened two big metal containers of food and pulled out the food with a ladel. I think since I couldn’t see what they were serving, the pure scent of it pulled me in. I simply nodded to what one of the ladies said and under a minute I was having a hot and hearty meal. Under $5 with a refreshment and a desert, it was as good as it gets.
As the evening came in, the temperature came down. I had to go to my hotel room to get an extra layer. I think the warmth of the room made me a little lazy and I ended up taking a nap. When I woke up it was already time for dinner. I did not complain.
At the end I know there is a lot that I would’ve not done in Antigua in my first visit. But then that’s why going there again and then again would be good.