Saturday, January 31, 2015

Antigua, Guatemala - CHECK!

Kicking off the new year with a trip somewhere new felt so good!  Living here in Roatan, I tend to travel less, and when I do it's more often to visit Oregon where my family and friends live.  A little exploration was calling my name.

For about $400, I was able to fly to Guatemala City from Roatan, via El Salvador.  Once Krystal and I arrived in Guatemala City, we threw our luggage in the hotel room and sprinted towards the mall!  We spent many hours in what seemed like the biggest mall in the world.  I'm guessing it was the same size as most malls, but when you come from a place where the grocery store is bigger than the airport; things start getting a little skewed.  We caught a movie at the movie theater, complete with fountain sodas and popcorn, more treats for these island girls!  We treated ourselves to the hotel's fancy continental breakfast, a trip to the salon before meeting our driver to take us to the beautiful town of Antigua.

Our fancy hotel, Grand Tikal Futura

Treating ourselves to the salon inside the MALL!

Antigua, the capital of the Captaincy-General of Guatemala, was founded in the early 16th century. Built 1,500 m above sea-level, in an earthquake-prone region, it was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1773 but its principal monuments are still preserved as ruins. In the space of under three centuries the city, which was built on a grid pattern inspired by the Italian Renaissance, acquired a number of superb monuments.

The pattern of straight lines established by the grid of north-south and east-west streets and inspired by the Italian Renaissance, is one of the best examples in Latin American town planning and all that remains of the 16th-century city. Most of the surviving civil, religious, and civic buildings date from the 17th and 18th centuries and constitute magnificent examples of colonial architecture in the Americas. These buildings reflect a regional stylistic variation known as Barroco antigueño. Distinctive characteristics of this architectural style include the use of decorative stucco for interior and exterior ornamentation, main facades with a central window niche and often a deeply-carved tympanum, massive buildings, and low bell towers designed to withstand the region’s frequent earthquakes. Among the many significant historical buildings, the Palace of the Captains General, the Casa de la Moneda, the Cathedral, the Universidad de San Carlos, Las Capuchinas, La Merced, Santa Clara, among others, are worth noting.

Delectable dining and exceptional cocktails and wine list at Micho's Gastro Pub

Mercedes Escobar treated us to her epic Ranchero performance, with a twist!

The building exteriors are mostly concrete, but all of them have their own flair

Antigua is overflowing with creative, artistic and unique restaurants, bars, coffee shops and boutiques

I have no idea what sort of celebration these statues are for, but they're quite impressive!
Island Sisters ~ Relaxin in Antigua

Handcrafted art everywhere you turn.  So beautiful!

It's nearly impossible not to be able to see a volcano from any vantage point of this city

Volcan de Agua

It's so beautiful I don't even care what is behind it!

Morning hike to see the city from afar

Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross)

So much simple beauty in Antigua

The central park, a very common theme among Latin America.  I could spend hours here watching the day go by.

Cathedral De Santiago

Santa Catalina Arch & Volcan de Agua

I couldn't stop snapping pictures, it was just too beautiful.

One of my favorites.  Vibrant and clean, with a reflection of the clouds off the glass.

Antigua lent itself a whole heap of fun for Krystal and I, and also couple of chance meetings with some friends!

Katie over at Nature Nibbles and Luke, host of Luke Massey Images, hadn't planned to overnight in Antigua while I was there, and their trip to Lake Atitlan started many days earlier than mine, so our paths were running pretty parallel, and fortunately crossed at the last minute.  Katie and I met on Roatan where her family owns land and she worked as a Scuba Instructor, and made some pretty great memories playing drunken volleyball Friday Nights on the beach!  She left the island to manage a bush camp in Zambia, where she met her now boyfriend Luke, who is a Wildlife Photographer.  The 3 of us shared a handful of beers and decided to try out the Illegal Mezcal accompanied by Orange slices dipped in Cayenne Salt.  Yummm!  Fortunately, they are headed to the island after their trek around Guatemala, so we will be lucky enough to stir up a volleyball reunion!

Lindsay and Brian over at Sintopes are friends from Oregon, who actually drove from Washington State!  Check out the link to their story, it's a good one!  We spent a couple of evenings telling stories and catching up, tasting Margaritas & Mezcals, indulging in late night Grilled 'Cheesus' Sandwiches and sampling the occasional Pesto flavored ice cream!  Lucky for me, they had visions of exploring Lake Atitlan as well, and we ended up spending a few days exploring the lake and the towns surrounding.

Sharing beers & stories with Lindsay & Brian.  (Brian conquered SIX Chili Dogs that night)

Stay Tuned, Lake Atitlan on deck...

Something about old ruins alongside bright colorful purple flowers, the rustic freshness caught my eye.

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