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Steve and Emma's Travel Tales

Getting to Antigua Guatemala

GUATEMALA | Sunday, 23 December 2012 | Views [324]

Our 6am tourist shuttle bus ($20) to Antigua duly picked us up and a mere 20mins later we were at La Florida and preparing to cross over into Guatemala.  We were the only vehicle trying to cross at that time and it was a pleasure to go through the formalities; not to mention it being a quick hassle free experience too.  Since we’d paid $3 a matter of days earlier to enter Honduras we weren’t charged again to leave.  However, the immigration officer on the Guatemalan side asked for Q20, which we quietly handed over despite there being no signs indicating a border fee.  We’d read that sometimes an admin fee is mentioned and standing your ground will only result in you being delayed and/or ultimately being expected to pay more!  We reckoned 20 Quetzals (are you keeping up with all these currencies?) or $2.50 wasn’t much of a Christmas bonus!

Anyway, here we were in our third country in as many days and finally feeling confident that we would make it to our Christmas treat.  The roads were good so within 5 hours we reached the outskirts of Guatemala City where, as luck would have it, no one wanted to stop.  So our van skipped past the city and carried on to Antigua which we reached only an hour later.  We’d just got out of the van when some ex-colleagues from KL happened along – we had to bump into someone we knew over the course of half a year!

The advantage of taking the more expensive shuttles is that you’re picked up at your hotel and dropped near the main tourist attractions and places to stay.  It only took us about 10mins to walk to Casa Jacaranda which is situated in a lovely old building with a peaceful garden.  Antigua is one of the more expensive destinations and this place saw us forking out $30 for shared facilities.  However, a fantastic breakfast was included where you have a choice of 4 menus and the location was great.  Although to be honest Antigua is so small I really don’t think it would matter where you stayed.

We have to say that Antigua is as gorgeous as the promotional literature would have you believe and knocks Granada into a cocked hat.  Steve stills tends to feel that Cartagena wins the most attractive colonial city as he liked the coastal location.  As for me, Antigua wins on size (i.e. smaller and no modern high-rises in the background) and the fact its set amidst stunning volcanoes.  As we tend to do when we’re in a town, we simply wandered aimlessly taking it all in and admiring the ubiquitous leafy, church dominated main square.  The streets are all cobbled and many of them are closed to traffic although we didn’t find it a busy place.   Antigua has a relaxed, inviting ambiance where the numerous vendors aren’t pushy and touts are non-existent.  A lovely first stop in Guatemala.


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