This past weekend I got to spend 3 days in Antigua, which definitely ties for one of my favorite cities in Guatemala (even though I haven’t been to many)! Antigua is a gorgeous city full of beautiful, old buildings. In fact, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, meaning it’s a protected city because it has a lot of old ruins. This also means there are restrictions on building codes, and even what color you can paint a building, but not all the rules are followed perfectly.
Although my friends live there, I did quite a bit of exploring on my own, while they were off doing various errands and activities. As someone who is almost always around people I know and love, it was new to just spend time wandering around a new place by myself, finding new things to do. Traveling alone has really helped me be more confident in just being alone, a strange concept to common Western customs nowadays.
I found plenty to do here in this beautiful city! I tried to look up fun (free) activities, and found quite a few – including the chocolate museum – but ultimately I just opted to go exploring! I don’t even know how to put all this down in one blog, there was so much!
I found several restaurants I highly recommend:
- Luna de Miel // This crepe restaurant has a rooftop terrace (with wi-fi), big licuados, and a big menu of all kinds of good stuff! I opted for the chicken salad, which came with SO much avocado (yum!), corn, and a delicious homemade salad dressing. Now, really good salad dressing is actually pretty hard to come by here in Guatemala. So it was a treat! I also ended up having dinner here and although there were plenty of options, most of them were “glutenous” so I just decided to go for the salad again. It was just so good! The restaurant actually also doubles as a hookah bar at night, though I didn’t get to try this.
- Toku Baru // A Mediterranean treat! They have everything Mediterranean you could hope for. From falafel to Chicken and beef kebabs. Not much else needs to be said. So delicious and right next to Café Sky.
- Café Sky // So the only reason this “restaurant” makes the list is because of the view and the drinks. Café Sky, which I went to on my first day in Guatemala, absolutely lives up to its name. You get a gorgeous view of the city on their third-story rooftop terrace bar. That first day I had a mediocre and very strange, “Caesar salad,” but it really wasn’t – it had large tomatoes, and a weird dressing resembling thousand-island dressing. But this time, we sat and looked out over the nightlife of Antigua and even got to watch lanterns floating up from a few spot. I recommend the limonada con soda (my favorite of all the ones I’ve tried in Guatemala so far, and I’ve tried a lot!) and from what I heard the alcoholic drinks are great too – lots of options. I didn’t end up drinking while in Antigua because I was on antibiotics and chose to be an adult and make smart decisions on that one 😉 (Hear that mama? Good call I know…)
- SabeRico // Oh boy if you are looking for great options and an adorable atmosphere, this is the place to go! The restaurant entrance is like a maze but opens up into these beautiful gardens where the waitresses might even come next to your table to pick the mint growing in the garden to prepare for some drinks! Adorable! With just about everything available to order: soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas, comida típico (Typical Guatemalan food), and more, I chose the tacos and a horchata. The tacos were even better than I expected! They ended up being like street tacos but fried like taquitos. The order came with guacamole and a delicious dipping sauce and I could’ve eaten three more. The horchata here is also not what you’re going to be expecting. We actually had a conversation about this at lunch. Mexican horchata is very smooth, really milk with seasonings, while Guatemalan horchata is more gritty, and Saberico’s horchata is actually blended with ice, so it ends up being more like a gritty, seasoned, sweet milk, frappe – oddly delicious.
- La Casaca // The smoothie bar in Central Park! Their smoothies are delicious. You can get a variety of smoothie combos, made with a base of water, milk, soymilk, or fresh orange juice. They also have a big menu of food to order: crepes, sandwiches, soups, and breakfast stuff. They also have a rooftop terrace and wi-fi so it’s a great place to relax in the sun, or if it’s too hot then you can go to the second floor and lounge on their comfy couches and chow down.
Another stop on my adventures was Choco Museo, the chocolate museum! I decided to save the chocolate factory and chocolate making tour for when my parents and Jeffrey visit at the end of the month (take note mom + dad!). But I stopped in and walked around a bit, sampled the in-house made chocolate tea, and chili and banana liquors (I momentarily forgot I wasn’t drinking alcohol due to said antibiotics — oops! But a teaspoonful of liquor didn’t hurt.) And of course, I bought a delicious chocolate bar. So yummy!
On Saturday, I wandered my way into a large artisan market that promises fair prices for buyers and the artisans who make all the products. I wasn’t planning on buying anything, but I wandered around inside for a good hour just looking at all the textiles and güipils, and tapestries and trinkets. I ended up buying a bunch of postcards, a bookmarker and a small coin purse because the wallet I bought in Pana is not very coin-friendly, and coins are big here. One of the workers at the market caught me taking this selfie and struck up a conversation, asking where I was from and what I was doing. The few local people I’ve spoken to about what I’m doing here are always very surprised when I tell them I’m here for 2 months, and living in Panajachel. In many areas, it’s not super common to leave home, unless you’re attending secondary school or university out of your city. But even then it’s most likely nothing more than a few hours bus ride home. So leaving home for 2 months is quite a shocker. The guy seemed to be getting a little too friendly, as many of the Guatemalan men can get, so when he asked if I was alone I told him my “amigo” was waiting for me in another shop. I think he took that as if I was saying boyfriend, I couldn’t quite tell, but whatever the case he promptly left me alone!
After leaving the market, I spent a few hours wandering the city. I explored some church grounds, and found a few little parks, and then went to the Central Park to write some postcards, where I had the experience I last wrote about.
More photos to come soon!