After a coffee fuelled night of working till 3am, my work was done and we was free to explore Antigua today. Despite the late night, I couldn’t sleep and we were both up by 8am so we headed for an early breakfast in our B&B. The owners of this quaint little house are really sweet and tried their best last night when we checked in to understand our terrible Spanish. We were soon served a plate of fresh fruits and scrambled egg on toast. It’s weird how much I like fruit now, at home when it was amply available I’d never eat it but now we live on such a crappy low quality diet, it’s the fruit I enjoy the most.
We somehow ended up in a museum within a few minutes of exploring the town. This basically happened because we saw a sign that said ‘Free entry’’ and went for it. Neither of us like museums so when we realised how big it was we thought it might have been a bad wrong turn. It turned out fairly interesting though as we learnt about how the Mayan people used to decorate their faces as a sign of stature within the community. It was common for them to put jewels in their teeth, create large holes in their earlobes (so the rebellious kids of today didn’t invent this!) and even flatten babies skulls to give the appearance of a longer skull (a sign of superiority). Like the Mayan people, these rituals were eventually wiped out after the Spanish settled in the area in the 17th Century.
Antigua is quite a bit bigger than Flores but still perfectly doable on foot. It’s much busier and unlike the quaint town of Flores, you’ll find a McDonalds, Wendys, Starbucks and Burger King here! They’ve done well to keep the authentic feel of the place though as all store fronts follow a wooden fronted style so you won’t see any golden arches lighting the cobbled streets at night. Like Flores, buildings here are very colourful and have that charming European style that’s so common in Central America.
Our little walk around Antigua took us to some of the famous sites including the most pictured Santa Catalina Arch and the buzzing Plaza Mayor (central park). We also popped into ChocMuseo, a popular chocolate museum. I think we missed the free chocolate making session but that didn’t stop of basically using the free samples as lunch for the day.
A lot of the buildings are very damaged and there’s even some that are surrounded by big chunks of brick that have fallen off over the years, it all adds to the charm and character of this little town though and you can tell it’s full of history. Talking of history, it was actually the capital of Antigua for a long time but as it sits close to a few volcanoes and was susceptible to earthquakes, people ended up abandoning it and moving slightly further north to form Guatemala city. The earthquakes are obviously still a problem as we experienced a tiny one this morning when we woke up.
It was around 4pm so we thought we’d head for an early dinner before the sun came down. I picked out a rooftop bar/restaurant for dinner called the Sky Cafe. I think it’s one of only a few places with rooftop seating and if we had got there 10 minutes later we wouldn’t have got a seat. We munched on nachos and enchiladas whilst watching the sun go down behind the largest volcano. It then instantly got very cold (very cold to me now is about 20 degrees) so we headed back to rest our tired legs.