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Antigua    ( Monday 02/28 - Friday morning 03/02 )

La Merced in Antigua Monday morning, my last one in Xela - I woke up with a big headache ( not what you might think, there was no alcohol involved!    ;-)    ), therefore I decided to look for a so called 1st class bus to Antigua instead of travelling with one of the Arco de Santa Catarina in Antigua overcrowded "colorful" busses. So I packed my stuff and than walked up to the station of Transportes Alamo ( 14a Av 3-60, Zona 3 ), I did get a ticket for the 10.30am bus to Chimaltenango, it did cost about $4 ( 30 GTQ ). Since I still had 20min left before the departure, I grabbed some bread from a bakery nearby and than got onto the bus. The scenery during the bus ride was again beautiful to observe - the ride was comfortable but kind of boring - compared to the 2nd class busses - but since I was miserable that day it was nice that I had a seat by myself. After a 3 hour drive we arrived in Chimaltenango, there I had to switch to one of the 2nd class busses for the following 40min drive to my final destination Antigua ( 1530 m ).
Antigua was the old capital of Guatemala, but after the 1773 earthquake were the city was destroyed ( which had already sufferd considerable damage from earlier earthquakes ), the capital moved to Guatemala City. Antigua is now a very beautiful city on the one hand because of it's location between 3 volcanos ( Agua, Fuego and Acatenango ), on the other A street in Antigua hand because of it's magnificent architecture, most buildings were constructed during the 17th and 18th centuries when the city was a rich Spanish colonial capital. In 1979 the UNESCO declared Antigua a World Heritage Site.
Door of the church La Merced From the Bus Terminal I headed straight to the Hotel Posado Don Valentino ( 5a Calle Poniente, between 7a Av Norte and Alameda de Santa Lucia ), and had luck since they had rooms available, there I payed for a one bed room with bath about $10 ( 80 GTQ ). After I had unpacked my stuff, I walked to the Parque Central, there I did sat down and did read a while in my "Lonely Planet". A few minutes later 2 local kids came by and tried to sell me something ( hairbands, hats and stuff like this ... ), they were pretty persistent, but in the end I just got up and left. It was obvious that Antigua is a place with many tourists - the only other place I came across kids which try to sell things to tourists was in Chichcastenango ( on market day ). Parque Central After I had strolled around through the city and had collected my first impressions of Antigua I went for dinner and than back to the Hotel to catch some sleep. On the following day I went for breakfast in the Cafe Condessa ( it's near the Parque Central, on 5a Av ) to get there you have to walk through a book store to get into the three beautiful courtyards of this Cafe. Ruins of Iglesia y Convento de la Recolección The rest of the day I did spent most of the time to organize some private stuff. On Wednesday I started to really get to know the city in more detail, first thing in the morning I visited the convent of La Merced. Inside of the courtyard there is a huge fountain, it's suppost to be the largest one of Central America - my impression was that this fountain is way to big for the small courtyard. My next destination were the ruins of "Iglesia y Convento de la Recolección", it's really impressive to walk through the huge fragments of the former building. As I was standing in the ruins I just thought that I hope that never will experience a big earthquake anywere in the world, it's just amazing A look into a door which powerful forces an earthquake can have. My next stop was the Casa K'ojom, a museum of Maya music and the ceremonies ( entrance fee less than $1 ). First you can see there a slide show with many pictures from Maya ceremonies and later on you should walk through the small museum to have a look at the different instruments and tools - I liked the museum and would recommend take the time to visit it. After the museum I walked to the "Adventure Travel Center" ( 5a Av Norte, near the Arco de Santa Catarina ) to try to get a flight from Guatemala City to Flores - I had thought long about - whether I should travel by bus to Flores or by plane - since I would have had to spend 10 hours for the the bus drive I decided to take the flight to have one extra day in Flores to see Ceibal. So I booked Public clothes washing area a flight from Guatemala City to Flores and back, the ticket did cost $70 and I made reservations for one night at Tikal at the Jungle Lodge for $50, which is very expensive for an overnight stay in Guatemala, but up in Tikal there are just 4 Hotels ( which are all pricy ) and one camping area ( but I had no tent with me ). After a quick stopover in my Hotel I went for dinner to "Samba" ( 6a Av Norte , between 3a & 4a Calle Poniente) and got a "Combo de Pollo" for about $3 ( 25 GTQ ). On Thursday I went to discover the eastern part of the city, looked at some churches and strolled around to take some more pictures. Than I looked around in different shops, stalls and the Mercado to get more One of the earthquake damaged churches of Antigua fabrics but soon I started to regret, that I hadn't bought more fabrics in Totonicapan, since there the prices were a lot better - there you see the difference from a market for locals and stalls for tourists. In the evening I went into the "CineMaya" to see "Buena Vista Social Club", it's not a real Movie Theatre, it's more like a living room atmosphere, since in a room you find a big screen TV and a few sofa's, actually it's pretty cosy. A woman weaving
The next day after breakfast I went to the bus terminal to check out when the next bus will leave for Guatemala City, but it was pretty quiet there. Than it turned out that the bus drivers are all on strike and that most likely no bus will leave Antigua on this day. Since my flight to Flores did leave Saturday early morning I had to find a way to get to Guate ( short for Guatemala City ). Back in the hotel I did ask them for a shuttle service and they told me for $10 I could get on the noon shuttle, so I got the ticket and went packing. On time, at noon, the VW bus shuttle picked me up, it turned out that I'm the only passenger on this bus, so I talked a lot with the driver, Antonio. He told me that the bus drivers have planned to strike for several days - now I really was happy that I had gotten the flight ticket to Flores - who knows, otherwise I might have stucked in Guate because of the strike. After one hour we arrived at the Hotel Pan American - Kathy & Kate which were also in Pana at the school had recommended this place to me, a single room did cost $35.



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